McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

FALL MIGRATION MONITORING PROGRAM

Week 12:  October 17 - 23, 2010

Welcome to the McGill Bird Observatory weekly report.  Click here for a complete listing of our archives.
Comments or questions are welcome at "mbo AT migrationresearch.org".

PICTURE OF THE WEEK:



This Rusty Blackbird, caught on the final day of week 12, was the first one ever
banded at MBO in fall, and only the seventh overall since 2004.
(Photo by Simon Duval)


MBO gratefully acknowledges funding from the Support Grant and Research Committees of Bird Protection Quebec, enabling us to provide full coverage of the Northern Saw-whet Owl season for the first time.

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THIS WEEK

THIS FALL

2010 TOTAL

SITE TOTAL

# birds (and species) banded

604 (23)

6401 (74)

7276 (80)

30785 (106)

# birds (and species) repeat

76 (13)

812 (41)

1026 (51)

5367 (68)

# birds (and species) return

2 (1)

39 (18)

171 (33)

791 (37)

# species observed

52

138

159

202

# net hours

438.0

5550.5

9109.9

49017.1

# birds banded / 100 net hours

137.9

115.3

79.9

62.8

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Bander-in-charge: Simon Duval, Kristen Keyes
Assistants:
  Lara Artinian, Bob Barnhurst, Christine Barrie, Christine Beaumier, Andre / Simon / Yvon Bellemare, Barb Campbell, Alison Casazza, Chris and Claude Cloutier, David Davey, Jean Demers, Leah den Besten, Abigail Dowden, Karine Duffy, Evgenia Faibusovitch, Katie Fraser, Jo-Annie Gagnon, Ruoxi Gao, Olivier Gautheron, Tiffany Gilchrist, Jude Girard, Gay Gruner, Jeff Harrison, Valerie Hayot-Sasson, Marie-France Julien, Jessica Krohner, Le Duing Lang, Kristen Lynn, Betsy McFarlane, Christina Miller, France Millette, Chris Murphy, Dan and Claire Murphy, Benoit / Francine / Johanne Paquette, Kasper Pater, Genevieve Perreault, Sophie Price, Greg Rand, Julien Robitaille, Sonia Rousseau, Catherine Russell, Marie-Odile Samson, Jane Sorensen, Clémence Soulard, Patricia Stotland, Pierrot Tellier-Machabée, Rodger Titman, Matthew von Bornhoft, Mieke van der Heyde

Notes:   With the end of the 2010 fall season now in sight, we expected migration to finally start tapering off by now, yet the 604 birds banded this week is only very slightly below last week's total of 635, and we still banded over 100 birds on three days this week, bringing our count of 100+ days for the season to an amazing 25!   Whereas last week's 635 was only a relatively modest increase over the previous week 11 record of 530, this week's 602 stands in greater contrast to the previous range of 157 to 359 birds banded in week 12.  The 23 species banded this week is also well above the previous range of 14 to 23.


This time of year at MBO is always marked by large numbers of American Robins, often showing a remarkable range of variation in plumage.  This after-hatch-year male was among the darkest and most richly coloured of those we banded.
(Photo by Marcel Gahbauer)

By this point in fall, it becomes difficult to add more species to the season's list, but we can usually count on one or two "winter finches" to show up in late October.  This week both Pine Siskin and Common Redpoll arrived.  While Pine Siskin has been observed in the second half of October in four of the past five years, this is the earliest fall record of Common Redpoll, with only a few individuals previously seen in the final week of October in 2005 and 2007.  On the banding side, we had our first Rusty Blackbird of the year, and our first European Starling of the fall.  Both are commonly seen but rarely caught at MBO, with fewer than 10 of each banded since 2004.  Overall, the 52 species observed this week were on the low end of the range observed in previous years, while the cumulative total of 138 for fall to this point is right on the average.

This week’s top 10   [last year's rank for this week in brackets]

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1. American Robin (191) [4]

1. American Robin (552.1) [1]

2. Slate-colored Junco (134) [1]

2. Canada Goose (425.0) [3]

3. Black-capped Chickadee (132) [2]

3. Red-winged Blackbird (167.0) [2]

4. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (25) [3]

4. European Starling (167.0) [10]

4. White-throated Sparrow (25) [6]

5. American Crow (135.1) [4]

6. Hermit Thrush (21) [5]

6. Slate-colored Junco (64.6) [5]

7. Song Sparrow (16) [9]

7. Black-capped Chickadee (51.4) [7]

8. American Tree Sparrow (13) [-]

8. White-throated Sparrow (32.6) [6]

9. Fox Sparrow (12) [10]

9. Common Grackle (31.6) [9]

10. Red-winged Blackbird (10) [-]

10. Mallard (21.9) [-]

Last week it seemed that the traditional peak of American Robin migration was starting off slowly, but that all changed this week, with the 191 individuals banded shattering the previous single-week record of 143 from four years ago this week in 2006.  The 134 juncos is also among the best weeks ever for that species, and the 132 chickadees just marginally behind last week's new record of 139. Together, these three species accounted for over three-quarters of all birds banded at MBO this week!  Ruby-crowned Kinglet and White-throated Sparrow continued in decent numbers as is normal at this time of year, while the addition of another 21 Hermit Thrushes this week resulted in yet another species with a record high fall total this year.  American Tree Sparrow was new to the list this week, as it is in most years.  For whatever reason, week 12 seems to be our best chance for catching Red-winged Blackbirds, and sure enough we had banded only one so far this fall, but added another 10 this week, enough to allow the species to anchor the bottom of our top ten list for week 12.

Not only did American Robin set a new weekly record for number of individuals banded, but the mean daily count of 552 also eclipsed the previous high of 419 observed during week 11 of 2006.  For the most part, these were high-flying flocks observed early in the morning, with the birds remaining on site only a small fraction of the total.  Like last week, Canada Goose and Red-winged Blackbird rounded out the top three as per tradition, but after five consecutive years of occupying fourth place in week 12, American Crow got bumped down one spot by the large flocks of European Starlings, mixed in part with the Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.  Juncos, chickadees and White-throated Sparrows all remained present in good numbers, though surprisingly few White-throated Sparrows were banded relative to their abundance; this may reflect the fact that many have been around for a while.  Mallard was the only new entry this week, displacing Yellow-rumped Warbler.


One of the Red-winged Blackbirds banded this week.
(Photo by Simon Duval)


A male Golden-crowned Kinglet raising its crest at the camera.
(Photo by Simon Duval)

With respect to the Northern Saw-whet Owl migration it was a quieter week, including one night lost to high winds, and four nights without any owls banded - though on the other two nights (Monday and Saturday) we caught 11 and 12 respectively.  However, our biggest excitement for the week came on Wednesday morning when we woke up to an e-mail from a bander at Little Gap in eastern Pennsylvania, who recaptured one of the owls we banded last year (on October 12) as a second-year female.  Little Gap is just over 500 km south-southwest of MBO, and roughly 120 km west of New York City. With 97 saw-whets banded at MBO so far this fall, we look forward to hearing about additional reports like this, considering that recent data suggest 5 to 8% of saw-whets in eastern North America are eventually recaptured.  To help ensure we can continue the saw-whet program next year, we are fundraising through our new Adopt-an-owl program - please consider supporting MBO by adopting an owl for yourself or as a gift ... we have many of this year's owls available for selection, and will provide full details of any future encounters to anyone who adopts them.


Two of the rusty-toned late season specialties at MBO - Fox Sparrow above,
and American Tree Sparrow below.
(Photos by Marcel Gahbauer)

 

2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.