McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

WINTER POPULATION MONITORING

December 1 - December 31, 2012

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 MONTH:



Common Redpolls started to arrive in good numbers in December, earlier than in past
"big" years, raising hopes for even larger flocks in early 2013.
(
Photo by Simon Duval)


MBO gratefully acknowledges the support provided for winter 2012-2013 by Bird Protection Quebec, in the form of bird seed to keep the MBO feeders stocked throughout the season.

 

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THIS PERIOD

THIS WINTER

2012 TOTAL

SITE TOTAL

# birds (and species) banded

155 (8)

432 (15)

5761 (93)

41512 (111)

# birds (and species) repeat

41 (8)

141 (13)

1568 (63)

7981 (70)

# birds (and species) return

6 (5)

22 (6)

248 (30)

1209 (38)

# species observed

28

35

171

207

# net hours

24.0

142.5

10190.6

69289.7

# birds banded / 100 net hours

645.8

303.2

56.5

59.9

Note: table does not include nocturnal banding (owls)

Banders-in-charge:  Simon Duval, Gay Gruner
Assistants:
 Nicolas Bernier, Alison Hackney, Lisa Keelty

Notes:  As usual, activity at MBO tapered off a bit in December, with only seven visits over the course of the month, and banding on just the first three of those.  However, the feeders remained active, and the brief banding efforts were very productive, with over 150 birds banded in just 24 net hours!  With nearly three months to go in winter, the 432 birds banded to date is just shy of the season record of 449 in winter 2010-2011.  Surprisingly, all the species observed in December had already been recorded in November, so the count of species observed this winter remains stuck at 35, which is below average.  


Among the Common Redpolls banded this month were two individuals of the rostrata subspecies, distinctly larger, browner, and more heavily streaked than the flammea subspecies which is more typical here in winter.

(Photo by Simon Duval)

There were another six returns in December, again a mix of local residents and "true" returns showing fidelity to MBO as a wintering site.  Among the local residents, the most noteworthy was a Black-capped Chickadee banded in September 2008, and recaptured every winter since except 2010-2011.  In the other group, there were two American Tree Sparrows (one banded last winter, and the other the winter before), and a Slate-colored Junco recaptured for the first time since being banded in December 2009.

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

# individuals banded

mean # individuals observed daily

1.  American Goldfinch (77) [1]

1.  European Starling (20) [2]

2.  House Finch (31) [2]

2.  American Goldfinch (18) [3]

3.  Common Redpoll (23) [9]

3.  House Finch (15) [6]

4.  American Tree Sparrow (13) [7]

4.  Common Redpoll (13) [-]

5.  Slate-colored Junco (6) [3]

5.  Black-capped Chickadee (11) [5]

6.  Black-capped Chickadee (2) [4]

5.  Slate-colored Junco (11) [8]

6.  Northern Cardinal (2) [7]

7.  Mourning Dove (5) [-]

8.  Song Sparrow (1) [-]

8.  Canada Goose (5) [1]

 

9.  American Tree Sparrow (4) [-]

 

10.  Ring-billed Gull (4) [-]

 

10.  Bohemian Waxwing (4) [-]

Goldfinches were again by a wide margin the most frequently banded species this month.  Their total to date for the season is 223, nearly double the previous winter record of 113, dating all the way back to our first season in 2004-2005.  House Finches were more abundant in December than ever before, and have also already reached a new season high of 88.  Meanwhile, Common Redpolls came on strong in third place, surprising given that in previous winters they have mostly been banded between January and March.  American Tree Sparrows and Slate-colored Juncos rounded out the top five, and this month's "top ten" is in reality an "all eight", with small numbers of Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, and a lone Song Sparrow comprising the rest of the month's results. 

With waterfowl and blackbird migration finally over, the number of birds observed daily was more modest this month.  European Starling took top place by a narrow margin over the American Goldfinches that dominated at the feeders, with the other two small finches following right behind, and then two of the other MBO winter regulars - Black-capped Chickadee and Slate-colored Junco.  The remainder of the species in the top ten were noticeably less numerous, and Bohemian Waxwing made the list only on the basis of a single flock on December 7.


A comparison of two hatch-year female Common Redpolls - a larger, heavier, darker rostrata
on the left, and a flammea on the right.
(Photo by Simon Duval)


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