The McGill Bird Observatory is located on the 22 hectare
Stoneycroft Wildlife Area in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec, at the western
tip of the island of Montreal. Stoneycroft is directly adjacent to the Morgan Arboretum, the largest of
its kind in Canada, covering 245 hectares.
internal report (Bardo, L., L. Goulet, A. Hibbert, V. Lukasik and
K. Poitras. 2003. Ecological assessment of the Stoneycroft Wildlife Area.
Internal Report, Dept. of Natural Resource Sciences. 50 pp.) documented over 240 species of plants, over 130 vertebrate
species and a very large insect population at Stoneycroft.
The habitat is a patchwork of different vegetation types comprising
shrubland, mature deciduous forest, hawthorn tracts, sumac stands, and
remnants of an apple orchard.
It is designated as a McGill Research Station, and as such there is
no public access, except within the context of special events or
research programs. This area provides a variety of attractive habitat for migrating birds
as well as a sheltered and safe location for equipment.
1995 and 2003, McGill University ornithology students and various adult wildlife
workshops utilized a section of the Stoneycroft Wildlife Area for
occasional banding activities in both spring and fall. Although efforts were
quite limited over the 9-year period, a total of 247 birds comprising
34 species were caught, suggesting that this area could be
productive as a migration monitoring site. Though
no owl banding was attempted during that period, the habitat
suggested that the site also has considerable potential for it.
August 2004, volunteers restored an old cabin on the
Stoneycroft property, which is now used as the McGill Bird
Observatory banding station. Ten passerine nets comprising
five groups were set up for the fall 2004 season, plus a
separate cluster of six nets for Saw-whet Owl migration
monitoring. This network was expanded for the spring 2005
season, and has been only slightly modified since then.
A census route was established in
2004 that provides access to the various habitats around the
property. During fall and spring migration, the census is
walked daily to ensure a comprehensive overview of the birds
present. It also provides a good way to get an overview of
the species in the area during the off-seasons in winter and
Selected photos of the banding station, net
lines, census route, and overall site are provided on the right, (click
the thumbnails for more
photos in each category).