Cross-Country (SNBU) Checkup- January 12th


early morning at the bait : Photo MP Laplante

Hi guys, here are the SNBU news I received in the last 2 days. Sorry for being a bit behind schedule, I had trouble connecting to the blog!!


Kern’s students are hoping that the SNBU waiting game will come to an end this coming week.  Our first sighting of SNBU happened way back on October 31st!  We were so hopeful that it would be an early start to the banding season this year. Alas, it was not to be.  More birds came for a visit early in December and our hopes were lifted again….. So here we are, it is January already and despite lots of snow cover, we have yet to band a single snow bunting!  After many inconsistent visits of birds to our site, we have finally managed to attract a small flock of 40-60 birds that have been feeding for a week.  After hearing that one of our birds was recaptured by Simon Duval in Southern Quebec, the Kerns “School of Flock” are super pumped to get banding!  Hopefully by your next post we will have lots of banded birds to report!  In the mean time Kerns students are banding the bountiful common red polls that have found our playground feeder

Joanne Goddard, Temiskaming


My flock of Snow Buntings is up to about 80 birds now. I feed them white millet at the edge of my back field.

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids


We’ve had some very cold and snowy winter weather the past week. Snow Buntings have finally showed up at our Watertown,  Wisconsin site, but we still haven’t seen birds at our Belgium, WI or Hartland, WI sites. This weather should be perfect for Snow buntings, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll show up in southeastern Wisconsin soon.

 Vicki Piaskowski, Hartland, WI


I’m afraid I have nothing to report re: banding.  I’m assuming the local banders are busy with other projects, as none have contacted me about the flock on my property.

Snow Buntings continue to be reported from several locations across southern Manitoba, especially the south-central Interlake and southeast portions of the Province.  Sightings of small drifts (<20) continue, but not as often as a few weeks ago.  When they are seen, the SNBU are in larger flocks (100-200), suggesting that as winter intensifies they are collecting at, or in the search for secure sources of food.  Since I have seen no reports of regular sightings from any given locality (other than mine), I think they are wandering about from one source to the next.  As always, this doesn’t mean that there are no larger, more stationary flocks about which I have seen no reports.

Snow Bunting-22

Photo : Bill Maciejko

Reflecting the above, the Camp Morton flock, which has been holding at 150 all season, grew to 250 (peaking at 300) in the last week.  The flock is not yet behaving as if “at home.”  They rarely use their normal roost and disappear between feedings.  The entire flock is usually seen only briefly, for the final feed of the day.  The flock appears to be entirely male, roughly 90% ASY, 10% SY.

All the best,

Bill Maciejko, Camp Morton 


Birds are back but moving quickly.


From Jan 3 to Jan 10, 339 SNBU, 4 LALO and 1 HOLA were banded. The peak was on Jan 6 when 74 SNBU were banded. Mirabel was our most productive site during the period, and a few recaps from St-Roch (banded few days earlier) suggest that the flocks are heading west, quite rapidly. In the 339 individuals, there were 40 females, still a fairly high percentage for southern Quebec.

Some interesting recaps at Mirabel included:

-7 individuals from Mirabel banded during winter 2013-2014

-8 individuals from Mirabel banded during winter 2012-2013

-2 individuals form Mirabel banded during winter 2011-2012, one of them being really cool as it was banded in Jan 2012, and recaptured twice in March 2014 (11th and 30th) at Mirabel again! He must really like the place.

Mirabel season total: 526 SNBU, 5 LALO and 1 HOLA


 The size of the flocks at St-Roch has decreased since the New Year. From Jan 5 to Jan 8, only 152 SNBU were banded. The peak was on the first day, Jan 5 with 75 SNBU banded, then it declined. 1 individual banded on Jan 5 was recaptured on January 7 at Mirabel, suggesting again that the flocks are heading west. The migration seems to be behind us now but we will keep monitoring the site every other day.

Some interesting recaps at St-Roch included :

-2571-17490, banded at Kerns public school in northern Ontario in January 2013

-1 individual from St-Roch banded during winter 2013-2014

St-Roch Season total: 633 SNBU, 4 LALO


 During the period, only two mornings of banding (Jan 5 and 7) produced 23 SNBU. There were still many birds present there so when banders are available, we will keep monitoring.

Coteau-du-lac Season total: 142 SNBU, 24 HOLA, 12 LALO and 1 SOSP.

So this brings our Southern Quebec Teams to a big total of 1301 SNBU banded, quite a good winter for us.

Simon Duval. The Migration Research Foundation

After being away during the Holidays, it was good to be back at the banding field late last week AND finally trap a few SNBU’s!! Season’s total for Sainte-Luce : 44 SNBU and 3 LALO. The site is located in a beautiful (but oh, so windy) elevated location with a great view of the Saint-Lawrence.


View of the bait site from the top of the hill with the River in the background (taken 2 weeks ago). Banding takes place in the big barn on the left in the picture, thanks to the owner, who kindly offered me to use the building. He turned out to be a bird enthusiast!


Photo:MP Laplante


A cold winter field at sunrise is a good place to be. Photo MP Laplante

 As some of you may recall, I banded SNBU’s in the QC eastern townships area last year. Last summer, a friend of mine moved in the cabin I used to live in in Cookshire. She has been baiting the orchard in which I used to trap and SNBU’s finally showed up at her place on Thursday ! She sent along this picture of a face that looked somehow familiar to me : a bird that I most probably banded last winter and showed up again this winter (see photo below). She is waiting to obtain her banding permit so hopefully we can soon have a new member joining the fun !


Banded Cookshire SNBU Photo: Paméla Lagrange

Marie-Pier, Sainte-Luce

** Next post in 2 weeks from now on January 25th !

** And stay tuned to the blog, the CSBN newsletter should be out sometime this week !!



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