Week 9:  September 26 - October 2, 2013

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Eastern Phoebe
This was the eighth Eastern Phoebe banded at MBO this fall, tying the
single-season record set in fall 2008.
(Photo by Gay Gruner)





2013 TOTAL


# birds (and species) banded

263 (35)

2283 (69)

3578 (86)

45090 (113)

# birds (and species) repeat

69 (20)

577 (40)

907 (53)

8888 (70)

# birds (and species) return

5 (4)

43 (17)

198 (35)

1407 (38)

# species observed





# net hours





# birds banded / 100 net hours





Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge: Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
  Christine Barrie, Nicolas Bernier, Sue Bishop, Cindy Bouchard, Marie-France Boudreault, Carl Bromwich, Geneviève Dubois, Steve Dumont, Nicki Fleming, Barbara Frei, Jo-Annie Gagnon, Nathalie Gendron, Lisa Keelty, Barbara MacDuff, Francine Marcoux, Betsy McFarlane, Charlotte Payette, Marie Perkins, Benoit Piquette, Catherine Russell, Leo Sarrazin, Ahmad Shah, Patricia Stotland, Rodger Titman, Jay VanderGaast

Notes:  The slow times continue at MBO - for the second week in a row, our number of birds banded was the lowest for that period in our nine-year history.  Both weeks we had good coverage, but numbers of mid/late-season migrants just seem to be a bit low this year, in sharp contrast to the early-season migrants, many of which were in record high abundance.  As has been the case all season though, observations remained well above average with 81 species reported over the course of the week.

Fox Sparrow
Fox Sparrows have started to move in, with these two banded over the past week.
(Photo aboveby Simon Duval; close-up below by Gay Gruner)

Fox Sparrow

The week started with our first Northern Goshawk of the year and first Fox Sparrow of the season, and the next day we added Double-crested Cormorant to the list for fall 2013.  Rounding out the five new species observed this week were Savannah Sparrow and Greater Snow Goose.  The only species banded for the first time this fall was Fox Sparrow.

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

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1. White-throated Sparrow (55) [1]

1. Canada Goose (612) [1]

2. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (54) [6]

2. American Crow (66) [2]

3. Yellow-rumped Warbler (24) [-]

3. White-throated Sparrow (37) [4]

4. Song Sparrow (21) [2]

4. American Robin (29) [9]

5. Slate-colored Junco (10) [-]

5. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (26) [-]

6. Golden-crowned Kinglet (9) [5]

6. Ring-billed Gull (26) [-]

7. Nashville Warbler (8) [9]

7. Blue Jay (20) [5]

7. American Goldfinch (8) [-]

8. Black-capped Chickadee (18) [6]

9. Swamp Sparrow (7) [-]

9. Song Sparrow (18) [8]

10. Red-eyed Vireo (6) [6]

10. Yellow-rumped Warbler (15) [-]

Two species dominated this week's banding, with White-throated Sparrow edging out Ruby-crowned Kinglet by the narrowest of margins.  White-throated Sparrow was also the top species in week 9 in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2012, while Ruby-crowned Kinglet came out on top in 2011 and has been the runner-up five previous times.  Coming in third place this week was Yellow-rumped Warbler - which is the other species that has routinely been among the top three over the years, so in that sense it was quite a typical week 9, other than all of them were less abundant than usual (8-year averages for this week being 77 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, 83 White-throated Sparrows, and 231 Yellow-rumped Warblers).  Song Sparrows were also slightly below average for this time of year, but with a season total of 227 so far, they're more numerous than they have been since 2009.  The remainder of the species in this week's top ten were notably less common, with Slate-colored Junco leading the way and reflecting our transition to the late part of fall migration.  Golden-crowned Kinglet, Nashville Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo had numbers similar to last week; Red-eyed Vireo has been a particularly consistent presence throughout the fall so far, with between 5 and 13 individuals banded each week since the beginning of August (78 in total, slightly above average).  American Goldfinch and Swamp Sparrow were new additions to the top ten this week.

Among species observed, Canada Goose took top place for the week by a wide margin, as it has every previous year in week 9.  American Crow was in second place like last week, and as it has been in three previous years at this point in the season.  The week's two dominant birds banded also were abundant enough to rank among the top five species observed, joined by American Robin, which avoided the nets entirely this week!  A few of our stalwarts (Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, and Song Sparrow) were in the bottom half of the top ten, joined by a resurgence of Ring-billed Gulls and a minor (compared to other years) pulse of Yellow-rumped Warblers. 

Warblers and kinglet
By late September, warbler diversity is decreasing - but we still managed this nice mix one morning.  From left to right:  Tennessee Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, and an impostor (Ruby-crowned Kinglet).
(Photo by Simon Duval)

Rounding out the week's news, Northern Saw-whet Owl banding has resumed for another year.  Eight individuals were banded this week, with six of them on October 2, and four other nights with no owls.  We expect numbers to be somewhat lower than usual this fall based on reports from the breeding range to the north, but will likely still increase somewhat over the next couple of weeks.  Meanwhile, check out The Nature of Things on Thursday October 10 for an episode called Ticked off: the mystery of Lyme Disease. Part of the story involves how ticks travel on birds - an aspect of research that McGill Bird Observatory has been contributing to for several years, and which earned us a small cameo in the documentary.  If you miss it, you can also watch it online at

Orange-crowned Warbler
One of the less common warblers at MBO, this was just the fifth Orange-crowned Warbler of the fall.
(Photo by Simon Duval)



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