McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

BIRDATHON 2009

The 2009 MBO Birdathon Team (Marie-Anne Hudson, Samuel Denault, Richard and Jean Gregson, Rodger Titman, Nicki Fleming, Barbara MacDuff, André Pelletier, Sophie Cauchon, Christine Barrie, Sarah Marteinson, David and Linda Fishman, Joy Ding and Jeremy Pauze) accumulated 83 species on Saturday May 23.  We had such a fantastic time last year during our local Birdathon (similar to a BIGBY), that we decided to do it again this year with the goal of breaking 100 species.  Had we held our Birdathon on Monday May 18, we’re sure we would have not only broken 100, but shattered it.  With 75 species at MBO alone that morning, it would have been a small matter to accumulate the remaining 25 species elsewhere… but we can’t always predict the peak of migration two months ahead of time!  Despite a lower species total than last year and some ravenous mosquitoes, we had a great time trekking around MBO and the Morgan Arboretum.  Like last year, our outing was almost entirely carbon-free outing: we had to arrive on site, and had to leave as well (though some folks car-pooled or biked up to MBO). Our goal for next year will be to encourage more car-pooling or biking.  A huge thank you to our eagle-eyed participants and to our generous sponsors: you should know that the funds you provided incited us to walk for over seven hours almost non-stop!  By the way, it’s not too late to support us - you still have a few weeks, and now that you know how hard we worked you may be tempted to click on Marie-Anne's link to make a secure online donation in support of her Birdathon.

Unfortunately we forgot to get a complete group photo of this year's MBO Birdathon Team, but here at least is part of the group, from front to rear: Linda Fishman, Barbara MacDuff, Sophie Cauchon, Jeremy Pauze, Nicki Fleming, Christine Barrie, and Marie-Anne Hudson
(Photo by Andre Pelletier)

Highlights:
We had a wonderful time walking around, soaking up the sun and catching up with folks we haven’t see in a while.  We also enjoyed being guided around the heart of the Morgan Arboretum by Richard and Jean Gregson.  As is usually the case in spring, especially when the leaves are out to such an extent, the Birdathon was more about hearing birds than seeing them. While the promised Red-bellied Woodpecker did not make an appearance (we’re holding Richard to it for next year), there were many other highlights:

  • Being able to spot the second owl species we’ve ever had on our Birdathon thanks to a very loud group of about 60 American Crows
  • Tracking down 18 warbler species
  • Watching five Turkey Vultures sitting in a recently ploughed field, trying to figure out what on earth they’re doing there, then speculating where the dead thing must be

   In some more detail, here is how the day unfolded at our two main stops:

This satellite map indicates our paths around MBO, then over to the Morgan Arboretum with a brief stop at Rudy's Ponds.  Not shown is the last little leg of Marie-Anne's journey to round out her Birdathon along the waterfront in Ste-Anne's. 
(Photo by Richard Gregson)

McGill Bird Observatory (MBO):
As tradition dictates, we started the day at MBO with the daily census.  And just like last year, MBO contributed the most warblers to our daily total, with 11 species found before we finished the census.  A slight change in our schedule had us doing a net round or two to help out our bander who suddenly found himself with lots of birds and not very many helpers!  This delay helped us net a few more species, but overall delayed our departure for the seed farm. Our walk of the census loop produced 39 species, which may be a reflection of a decline in migration, or perhaps a reflection of our decision to run the census as a whole group and not two going in either direction as we’ve done in previous years.  This method had previously helped us get an additional eight species that we otherwise didn’t have on the ‘official’ census, so we’re thinking we’ll revert back to that way next year!  Shaking off MBO’s mosquitoes, we then headed towards the seed farm (the fields to the east of MBO) with our list just under 50 species. The fields at the farm had just been ploughed, so we were only able to add two new species to our list.  From there we set off towards the Arboretum, netting five new species just down the road!  These species would prove to be the “easy” ones of the day, with more common species (often referred to as the “gimme” species like Mourning Dove and Ruby-throated Hummingbird) not appearing at all!  We searched hard for our birds this year, we assure you!

Often a nemesis on Birdathon day, this year we lucked out and got both nuthatch species.  This one appeared to be busy digging out a nesting cavity.
(Photo by Richard Gregson)

Morgan Arboretum (MA):
Once in the Arboretum proper, we made our way to Blossom Corner, a wonderful area with many – you guessed it – blossoming trees.  Apparently the trees were just dripping with warblers a few days ago, but when we arrived the area was decidedly quiet.  We stubbornly refused to go anywhere until we got at least one new species, and were rewarded with not one but three!  And not the ones you’d expect either: Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Great Horned Owl!  Alright, the owl wasn’t quite at Blossom Corner, but it was close enough to count.  All in all we saw 22 species at the Arbo that we saw nowhere else.

How could we not share this wonderful photo of our mascot (for those of you who don’t know, the MBO logo is a silhouette of a Yellow Warbler sitting in a hand).  Notice the band on this little guy?
(Photo by Richard Gregson)

Every Birdathon has a bizarre spectacle or two: here’s this year’s!  Five Turkey Vultures chilling out in a ploughed field without a carcass in sight.
(Photo by Richard Gregson)

MBO ... Ste-Anne's:
Before calling it a day (and boy we were itching to after seven hours of walking), we took one last look around MBO and grabbed another two species, a high-flying Sharp-shinned Hawk and a crouching Green Heron. Still missing some pretty “easy” species, Marie-Anne headed down to the Ste-Anne’s waterfront to see if she could add any species to the total. She certainly did, with Common Raven, Chimney Swift, Bank Swallow, Double-crested Cormorant and Common Tern easily added to the list over some well-deserved coffee. The total now stands at a respectable and hard-earned 83 species, all found within 2.5 km of MBO.

One of our stars of the day, the Great Horned Owl in the Arboretum flinching from a crow attack above, and then resuming a more dignified stature below.
(Photos by Samuel Denault)

The list below includes all of the species seen and/or heard during our Birdathon, broken up into rough taxonomic groups.  We did terribly with waterfowl (3 species) and shorebirds (only Killdeer!), but that's to be expected without access to a large wetland.  We did very well with the warblers (18 species) and passerines on the whole (60 species).  We're already looking forward to even greater results in 2010, when we may try to Birdathon by bike!

Complete list of species observed: 
(Locations:  MBO - McGill Bird Observatory; MA – Morgan Arboretum; STEA – from MBO to Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue)

Common Loon / Plongeon huard (MA)
Double-crested Cormorant / Cormoran à aigrettes (STEA)
Great Blue Heron / Grand héron (MBO)
Green Heron / Héron vert (MBO)

Canada Goose / Bernache du Canada (MBO)
Wood Duck / Canard branchu (MBO)
Mallard / Canard colvert (MBO, MA)

Turkey Vulture / Urubu à tête rouge (MBO, Seed Farm, MA)
Sharp-shinned Hawk / Epervier brun (MBO)
Cooper’s Hawk / Epervier de Cooper (MA)
Red-shouldered Hawk / Buse à épaulettes (MA)
Red-tailed Hawk / Buse à queue rousse (MA)

Killdeer / Pluvier kildir (MBO)

Ring-billed Gull / Goéland à bec cerclé (MBO, MA)
Common Tern / Sterne pierregarin (STEA)

Rock Pigeon / Pigeon biset (MA)

Great Horned Owl / Grand duc d’Amérique (MA)

Chimney Swift / Martinet ramoneur (STEA)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker / Pic maculé (MBO, MA)
Downy Woodpecker / Pic mineur (MA)
Hairy Woodpecker / Pic chevelu (MA)
Northern Flicker / Pic flamboyant (MA)
Pileated Woodpecker / Grand Pic (MBO)

Eastern Wood-Pewee / Pioui de l'Est (MA)
Great Crested Flycatcher / Tyran huppé (MBO, MA)
Eastern Kingbird / Tyran tritri (MBO)
Least Flycatcher / Moucherolle tchébec (MBO)
Alder Flycatcher / Moucherolle des aulnes (MA)

Tree Swallow / Hirondelle bicolore (MBO, MA, STEA)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow / Hirondelle à ailes hérissées (MA)
Bank Swallow / Hirondelle de ravage (STEA)
Cliff Swallow / Hirondelle à front blanc (MA, STEA)
Barn Swallow / Hirondelle rustique (Seed farm, MA, STEA)

Blue-headed Vireo / Viréo à tête bleue (MA)
Warbling Vireo / Viréo mélodieux (MBO)
Red-eyed Vireo / Viréo aux yeux rouges (MBO, MA)

Blue Jay / Geai bleu (MBO, MA)
American Crow / Corneille d'Amérique (MBO, MA, STEA)
Common Raven / Grand Corbeau (STEA)
Black-capped Chickadee / Mésange à tête noire (MBO, MA)

Red-breasted Nuthatch / Sittelle à poitrine rousse (MA)
White-breasted Nuthatch / Sittelle à poitrine blanche (MA)

House Wren / Trogolodyte familier (MBO, MA)

Veery / Grive fauve (MBO, MA)
Swainson’s Thrush / Grive à dos olive (MA) 
American Robin / Merle d'Amérique (MBO, MA)

Gray Catbird / Moqueur chat (MBO)

European Starling / Étourneau sansonnet (MA, STEA)

Cedar Waxwing / Jaseur d’Amérique (MBO, Seed Farm)

Tennessee Warbler / Paruline obscure (MBO)
Nashville Warbler / Paruline à joues grises (MBO)
Northern Parula / Paruline à collier (MBO)
Yellow Warbler / Paruline jaune (MBO, MA)
Chestnut-sided Warbler / Paruline à flancs marron (MBO, MA)
Magnolia Warbler / Paruline à tête cendrée (MBO)
Cape May Warbler / Paruline tigrée (MBO)
Black-throated Blue Warbler / Paruline bleue (MA)
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler / Paruline à croupion jaune (MBO, MA)
Black-throated Green Warbler / Paruline à gorge noire (MA)
Pine Warbler / Paruline des pins (MA)
Blackpoll Warbler / Paruline rayée (MBO)
American Redstart / Paruline flamboyante (MBO)
Northern Waterthrush / Paruline des ruisseaux (MBO)
Ovenbird / Paruline couronnée (MBO, MA)
Common Yellowthroat / Paruline masquée (MBO, MA)
Wilson's Warbler / Paruline à calotte noire (MBO)
Canada Warbler / Paruline du Canada (MBO, MA)

Scarlet Tanager / Tangara écarlate (MA)

Chipping Sparrow / Bruant familier (MBO, MA)
Savannah Sparrow / Bruant des prés (Seed farm)
Song Sparrow / Bruant chanteur (MBO, MA)
Swamp Sparrow / Bruant des marais (MBO)

Northern Cardinal / Cardinal rouge (MBO, MA)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak / Cardinal à poitrine rose (MA)
Indigo Bunting / Passerin indigo (MBO, Seed Farm, MA)

Bobolink / Goglu des prés (MA)
Red-winged Blackbird / Carouge à épaulettes (MBO, MA, STEA)
Common Grackle / Quiscale bronzé (MBO)
Brown-headed Cowbird / Vacher à tête brune (MBO, MA)
Baltimore Oriole / Oriole de Baltimore (MBO, MA)

Purple Finch / Roselin pourpré (MBO)
American Goldfinch / Chardonerret jaune (MBO, MA)

House Sparrow / Moineau domestique (MA, STEA)

 

2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.