Cross-country SNBU Checkup

Hello folks, below are the updates I’ve received from CSBN members during the past few weeks. There have been some interesting retraps in Southern Ontario, by David Hussell, Andrew Sawyer, David Okines and Caroline S. These are described in the first few entries below.

David Hussell & Andrew Sawyer – Feb 1st, 2014

Andrew and I trapped at Long Point beach yesterday. We banded 46, bringing our season total to 220. We also got 2 unidentified recaps as follows:
Interestingly, we did not get any recaptures from the 174 SNBUs we banded in the last few days of December and first days of January. Evidently they have moved on. The situation is much changed. Yesterday we had nearly all males, predominantly SYs, in contrast to mainly females earlier.

Feb 2nd, 2014

Andrew was out banding again today and got 7 more foreign recaps. I suspect someone banding nearby, so I have copied to David and Martin.

David Okines replied to this message to say:

Hi Dave,
I’ll claim all the 2291-25XXX ones and also the 2291-27XXX ones (all banded in January), the 2421-73XXX series and the 2421-73XXX ones are Martins.

I only banded 22 today in 1-1/2 hours but did get 3 foreign birds 2571-36818, 2571-36834 and 2531-18665.

David Hussell claimed the 2571-36 bands reported by David Okines, but it seems the 2531-18xxx series bands have yet to be claimed.


Next are some interesting recaptures from Caroline S.

Caroline S – East Harrow (SW Ontario) – Feb 1, 2014

Hello folks. No, we have not discovered a new species of bunting, but we did have a Snow Bunting with 2 bands on it! Very exciting and interesting.

E. Harrow is the winter banding station of HBMO (Holiday Beach Migration Observatory). It is located in Essex County, in southwestern Ontario. We trap in a corn field, using cracked corn bait generously provided by one of our members.

January 29, 2014 was not in any way a “nice day” to be banding, but I’m so glad we did. It was very cold (for here) at -17C and windy (20-30+ kph). We banded 60 birds that day, including 51 Size 1B: 33 SNBU, 15 HOLA, and 3 LALO. Also banded were 9 Size 0: 8 ATSP, and 1 SCJU.

Our most interesting bird of the day was our second SNBU recap in less than one week! Our first recap, #2571-37426, which we caught January 26th, was claimed by LPBO: banded by Andrew Sawyer on Long Point Beach as a SY female, with fat of 5 and weight of 35.3 grams. When we recaptured her, she still had a fat of 5 but had increased her weight to 36.4 grams.

Our second SNBU recap had band #2421-94214 on her right leg. We determined it to be an ASY female, after careful study, as a few of her greater coverts were a bit confusing. She had a wing-chord of 100 mm, fat of 4, and weight of 35.1 grams. Okay, fine….. It was exciting enough just to get another foreign recap, but this one was really special because she had a second metal band on the left leg! It read: “1-800-327-2263”.

After banding had concluded for the day I called the 1-800 number, and to my delight learned that #2421-94214 had been banded February 9, 2013 at “Hagersville” by “Mr. Ludkin” of York, Ontario. I asked, “Is that Rick Ludkin?” And she replied she didn’t know…all she had was “Mr. Ludkin.” The person also said that it was an ASY F when it was banded. So this particular bird was hatched in 2011 or before. Very interesting!

I giddily emailed Oliver Love to tell him about the recap, and the fact that it had a second metal band. I had never seen one like it. Oli told me that it was an “address band”. And he said, “We gave a bunch to Rick and to David Lamble to put out to try and increase band re-sightings. This is the first one that has ever been recaptured!

Below are 3 photos of this beautiful bird, showing off her “bling”. You can see the script on the left-leg band fairly well. You can also read the right-leg band clearly. Too bad I didn’t think to rotate the band so that (part of) the actual band number would show up instead of the word OPEN. Oy! (I learn something new with every recap!)

Now you can tell your birding buddies that You have seen “the Double-banded Bunting”….. Well at least you’ve seen photos of it. I wonder who will catch the next SNBU recap? Good luck! (It’s so exciting!!)

(Rick Ludkin later emailed to indicate that Nancy Furber had banded the double-banded bird.)

Photo sent by Caroline of flock during the day of her first retrap (now the header for the blog):

SNBU flock in East Harrow

SNBU flock in East Harrow

Photos by Larry Ludwicki & HBMO of the double-banded bird:

ASY Female

ASY Female

Double-banded bunting

Double-banded bunting

Lori Anderson – Powassan (North Bay area) – Jan 21, 2014

Jan. 21/14 A sunny -39C, warming up to -23
Hi all – A hungry flock of 120 SNBU have found my corn (8 miles east of Powassan – hayfield next to the farmyard)! I am not a bander, and so can only observe and speculate, but very exciting to be host to the flock! They have made themselves at home, roosting on the barn roof, dropping down to feed frequently. I have spent some time with the binoculars – have not detected any bands, nor are there any other species mixed in. The flock has been in the neighbourhood over the past month, this past week I was able to attract them to the feed.
Two other (annually fed) flocks have returned to the area – near Bonfield a flock of 20 (usually by now this flock size is 80 or more), and at South River a flock of about 80 (here they have fed larger flocks in the past years).
Are some members of these two flocks hanging out at my farm lately???
I was very fortunate to be able to participate in The Great Timiskaming Bunting Stakeout and Trap with Bruce Murphy and Co. this Saturday past in New Liskeard. Although the flock size was a little shy (they don’t find their way into the traps as well without crowd pressure) the weather was perfect and both SNBU and LALO were banded, along with some recaptures. The recaptures, wearing Bruce’s bands, included both species, and some from a former year. What great exposure the local youth are gaining, participating in Bruce and Joanne’s banding operations.

Going Down for Corn

Going Down for Corn

Joanna Goddard – Temiskaming –
Jan 21st, 2014

Well it has been a bit of a frustrating week so far at Kerns, especially after the success of last week. Bitterly cold temperatures have not allowed us to band and we are hopeful that the forecast for warmer weather later in the week will come to pass. Also the number of birds hanging around the site has dwindled to 50 or so.

Last week however, (Jan14-17th) was an interesting one. We went from only catching 7 SNBU on Tuesday, to 96 SNBU and 1 LALO on Thursday and back to only 6 birds on Friday. We are puzzled by what makes the birds leery of the traps one day and quite willing to feed on another. We suspect there may be another food source nearby, as we are quite close to a farm with a granary and backyard bird feeders. The big excitement for us however was the large number of returning birds we are getting. Over our last five banding days, we caught 11 SNBU that were banded by us last year. Even more interesting is that on our big 97 bird-day (Thurs) we recaptured 5 birds that were all originally banded on Jan 26th of last year! This seems to indicate that our current flock is very dedicated to each other and to our particular site. It will be interesting to see how many more birds return in the coming weeks.

The event that most excited the Kern’s students was the news that two of our birds banded in March of last year were recaptured in April of the same year in Magpie Quebec. When we looked back in our journals we were able to find out exactly which students were assisting in the banding on those particular days. Congrats goes out to Paige and Brodie (grade 8), and our school custodian Darlene. I am including a picture of them holding birds from last week.
Jo Goddard Kerns Public school, Temiskaming.

Jan 25th, 2014

We were totally skunked this week at Kerns. Extreme temperatures and snow storms made it impossible to band. We had a small flock of about 50 birds for most of the week, and then they seemed to disappear all together on Friday. At Murph’s site there are still about 150 birds but again conditions have made banding impossible. We have spoken to many folks in the Temiskaming area who are also reporting a decrease in the number of SNBU sightings. Perhaps it is even too cold for these hardy birds to stick around…. Maybe Murph and I will also have to disappear from this crazy cold weather….We are thinking Jamaica! We are hoping for milder weather soon.

a big day 97birds

Busy Day!

Busy Day!

Kerns' Banders

Kerns’ Banders

Simon Duval – McGill Bird Observatory – Jan 29th, 2014

Hi Network,
After the week of warm weather, here are a couple news from our different sites. The birds came back to Mirabel but in much smaller groups. Only 136 Snow buntings have been banded there in January so far compared to 206 in December. The total for the winter so far is 342 SNBU, 2 LALO, 5 recaptures from previous years (our birds) and 1 recapture from Sorel. The new site in St-Roch is doing good, the birds came back strong and the group is now around 100-120 birds with peaks of 150 when really cold. So far, 117 SNBU have been banded there with limited efforts (only 4 days, 16 hours). Gay Gruner is now also working on a site in Rigaud, where she’s banded 15 SNBU so far. She is also looking at other potential sites in the St-Clet/St-Lazare/Rigaud area.
Next weekend is going to be a warm one in our areas, hopefully the birds will stay!

Benoit Gendreau – Berthier-sur-Mer, QC – Jan 20, 2014

Hi Jeff,
the last 10 days were very slow. Just a few bird feeding at the bait.
But this mourning, the cold temperature bring back SNBU (arround 150) at my baiting site. Hopefully I will have time to band this week!
Total for the winter: 152 SNBU and 2 LALO.
à bientôt,
Benoit Gendreau

Carl Bromwich – Eastern Townships (Quebec)
Jan 20, 2014:

After six inches of fresh snow, I finally HEARD some SNBU this morning….so at least a few survived the Eastern Townships ice storm!

Jan 22, 2014:

As a follow-up to my last message, it was cracking cold this AM (-32) and the SNBU finally showed up. A tiny flock of 12 birds came to the corn in my drive-way about five feet in front of my car, which was struggling to warm up for the ride to school/work. I hope it signals the imminent arrival of the big flocks I am used to seeing.

And, finally, and interesting story from Todd Pepper of Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (East Harrow, ON):

A friend of mine, Francis Argyle, is a bird ringer living in Israel. The first ever SNBU showed up in Israel back on December 20, 2013. Here is the info provided by Francis in response to my request for more info:

It was a first-year male, Todd, and it was found on north beach of Acre (Med coast) on 20th December and was there for at least a week. It stayed on the beach and found seeds to eat in the plantlife at the top of the beach. It was very tame and approachable.
cheers, Francis

It was suggested you might want to post this on the blog of the SNBU monitoring network.

Respectfully yours,

Todd R. Pepper

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