January 13th – Unsettled Weather & Recaptures

Snow Bunting taking "wild" food.    -G. Berger

Snow Bunting taking “wild” food. -G. Berger

Just last week, Wednesday the 8th in fact, we had nice crisp temperatures and a good layer of snow. Although we weren’t seeing really large flocks of Snow Buntings we were seeing medium to small flocks consistently. They would fly into the baited trap area and then were off again. We managed to tap into some of these birds, getting 84 SNBU’s and 10 HOLA’s (Horned Larks). Over the next two days we (Nancy Furber and I) got a few more pushing our Winter totals to 116 Snow Buntings, 88 Horned Larks and 7 Lapland Longspurs….not outstanding, but respectable totals. Further, we had the feeling that the birds that were going to winter in the area were here and we would be catching for the rest of the Winter. But then it warmed up and the rain came, eating up the snow and now there isn’t a bunting to be seen along any of the rural roads in our community (Haldimand County). And from the sounds of things that has been the case across southern Ontario, Quebec, and into New Brunswick (as the following updates will show). I guess the place to be is in the north with Bruce Murphy and Joanne Goddard in Timiskaming Shores. (Although I’ll bet Bill Maciejko in Gimli Manitoba still has lots too……)

Horned Lark - common in Haldimand County.       -G. Berger

Horned Lark – common in Haldimand County. -G. Berger

This will be a busy post as there’s lots to check out besides updates. Starting off, here’s a link to download the lastest CSBN Newsletter from Christie Macdonald, Newsletter editor:
Rick – in your next CSBN post on the blog, could you include this link to the final version of the newsletter:

The most exciting news has surrounded 4 recaptures of previously banded Snow Buntings. I have clumped the emails involving them below so you can see how things played out. There’s both an east-west component and a north-south one.

[Recapture #1]
Hi Rick,
My partner has just this morning captured a SNBU banded elsewhere: 2661-84151, an ASY male. Could you ask the list if anyone recognizes the number as theirs?
Theresa McKenzie
King City

Hey Rick, Theresa and all,
No need to look further, I’ll claim that bird! This AHY-M was banded by subpermittee Liette Fortier at Mirabel, QC on December 21st, 2013 at 09:30. Awesome recapture of this bird obviously still on the move! Wing of 109mm, fat of 2 and weight of 38.3g
Could you tell me exactly the date of the recapture and also the exact location of your site?
Theresa, you can submit the recapture to the Bird banding Lab, our data for 2013 has been submitted.
Keep up banding,
Simon Duval
Coordinator, McGill Bird Observatory

Thanks Rick, and Hi Simon,
Thanks for the fast response Rick that was the last bird to be processed today . I caught 14 birds in the traps on that check i was very confused because our new bands began with the 2661 prefix i just finished the last 2581 this morning and when i came home i was trying to figure it out if it was one of ours thank god for Theresa. The bird weighted 35.5 and fat 0 ,110 wing ,AHY,M ,Back at it tomorrow.
Regards Glenn (Theresa’s partner)

Wow! That is interesting. My husband and banding partner, Glenn, caught it this morning at 11:34 am, the last bird of the day. We’re lucky he didn’t call it quits a few minutes earlier! Fat was 0 and weight was 35.5 g. He measured the wing as 110 mm. We just started banding at this site on December 21, (the same day you banded this individual). The coordinates are :
Latitude – Longitude:
and the location is King City, ON
Theresa & Glen

[Recapture #2]
Hi Rick,
Just got news that Liette Fortier recaptured SNBU 1841-80160 at Mirabel this morning. Any chance you could circulate that on the list, the BBL doesn’t have any info on it.
Simon Duval
Coordinator, McGill Bird Observatory

Hi Rick and Simon,
How nice! I banded this HY M SNBU at Sainte-Victoire-de-Sorel two weeks ago (banding location 45° 56,655′ 73° 5,491′, december 26th, 2013). Wing of 110mm and fat of 4 (weight NA).
That’s interesting they cross the St.Lawrence. From my site, I thought they would head south along open corridors in the Richelieu valley. Or maybe at this time they just move around the St.Lawrence lowlands not following any particular route.
Thanks for the info. Keep up with the good work!
Dominique Dufault

Salut Dominique,
Good going! The bird was recaptured on rang Ste-Marie, Mirabel by subpermittee Liette Fortier this morning. Bird had 3 fat, 36.1g
Could you check the coordinates of the site, I think you’re missing a number 73 5x,491.
Lâche pas le baguage!
Simon Duval
Coordinator, McGill Bird Observatory

Hi Simon,
The coordinates are ok. The missing number is a zero in front of 5′ (73 05,491). Or if you prefer N45.94425 W73.09152.
Bonne journée!
Dominique Dufault

[Recapture #3]

Hi Rick,
We got another one today at our King City site, an ASY male SNBU banded Jan 2011 as an SY bird in St. George, ON, ( i.e. south of Cambridge). Do you know whose that would be?
Theresa McKenzie

[Probably Bill Read’s but we’re just trying to reconfirm the number……and yes! It was banded by Bill in 2010.]

[Recapture #4]
See Bruce Murphy’s update below.


SNBU close-up.   -C. Staddon

SNBU close-up. -C. Staddon

[January 9th]
We managed to band for 2 hours today as the temperatures finally were bearable! Someone told me today that the temperature reading here, at our local airport, a few days ago, registered -60! which was the coldest spot in all of Canada. Crazy. Anyway we were happy to band 39 SNBU and 1 LALO. So we are back in business!
Talk soon!
Jo Goddard
Kerns Public School
Timiskaming Shores

The Kerns Krew heading for the traps - makes for an interesting school day!   -J. Goddard

The Kerns Krew heading for the traps – makes for an interesting school day! -J. Goddard

[January 11th]
Hi Rick. We had a great week at Kerns. We only managed to band 2 days this week due to a “snow day” and other school happenings, but we were happy to band 115 SNBU and 1 LALO. With our totals from December that brings Kern’s kids to 119 SNBU and 25 LALO. It is raining here today (Saturday) but the kids are hopeful that it will turn to snow by morning and we will get out on Sunday morning. The kids have getting birds out of the traps down to a science now, partners are the way to go when hands get too cold!! and some are beginning to show great skill in aging, sexing and banding.
Jo Goddard
Kerns Public School
Timiskaming Shores

Many hands make light work - an extractor and a bagger. Hey! Isn't that a Ruthven bird bag!?   -J. Goddard

Many hands make light work – an extractor and a bagger. Hey! Isn’t that a Ruthven bird bag!? -J. Goddard

Looks like a big day!    -J. Goddard

Looks like a big day! -J. Goddard

The one in the corner is always tough to get out.       -J. Goddard

The one in the corner is always tough to get out. -J. Goddard

hmmm.....looks cold.      -J. Goddard

hmmm…..looks cold. -J. Goddard

Hi rick:
We had a very exciting week in timiskaming. Joanne and her kids had a fantastic week of banding and had a great one day totlal of 74 snow buntings. I have been able to band at our other site “up on the hill” and together the 2 sites contributed 233 new snow buntings banded and 2 lalo. The big excitement for us was the capture of yet another recovery of a bird banded by David Lamble near Arthur Ontario. I captured it today and the banding lab says it was originally banded Feb 1 2013. I believe this is the 4th Lamble bird that has wandered here, pretty much establishing a corridor of some sorts between us. Who knows where “his” birds spend their summers but they spend some of their winters in timiskaming. Of great interest to me was that in the same “trap check” I recovered a bird we had banded at the same site in 2012 it was only the 34th bird we had banded at this site. As well a Christmas present I sent myself in 2012 a bird I banded Christmas day 2012 came back to the trap. People have to appreciate that the banding site is 3 minutes from our house – I am obsessed but not clinical. So you never know….as Aldo Leopold says: putting a band on a bird is our chance at entering the greatest of all lotteries, the chance to find out more about these wonderful birds. I apologize for the slanderous paraphrase but it is just so amazing that these birds find their way back to the same pile of corn from years past. Including our December totals we are now up to 505 snow buntings and 28 lalo. Best of luck everyone hopefully someone else will win the lottery soon.
Bruce Murphy
Timiskaming Shores

Processing SNBU's in the Buntingmobile.       -J. Goddard

Processing SNBU’s in the Buntingmobile. -J. Goddard

The pleasure of bunting banding is evident.     -J. Goddard

The pleasure of bunting banding is evident. -J. Goddard

Hello Rick:
The birds have left — there have not been any there for the past 3 days and I do not expect any for the rest of the week — hopefully they will return next week. I guess they have headed back north or east, depending the effect warm weather has on them…………………
David Lamble

Feeding flock.     -L. Balthazar

Feeding flock. -L. Balthazar

That’s such exciting news! [the recapture] Over here in Lanark, Ontario, we have a small flock of about 20 Snow Buntings feeding on white millet and deer food made up of corn, oats and barley.
Lise Balthazar
   -L. Balthazar

-L. Balthazar

Salut Marie-Pier,
I`ve got a moment of peace and thought I’d let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you. There are simply NO SNOW BUNTINGS around. I saw one small flock a couple of weeks ago and have seen nothing since….nothing near my place and nothing while riding the roads through prime SNBU country between my place and Sherbrooke. I read somewhere that they “roost” under the snow. I hope not because there would have been huge losses foloowing the ice storm if that is the case. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted.
Carl Bromwich
Eastern Townships

Hi Carl,
Thanks for the update.
I got similar news… I am just back in the townships after a bit of traveling around, but observers at two other baited sites in Sawyerville and North Hatley have emptied out of buntings within the few days following the ice storm.
Have a good day,
Marie-Pier LaPlante
Eastern Townships

New banding site.....complete with buntings.     -S. Duval

New banding site…..complete with buntings. -S. Duval

Hi Rick,
Well unfortunately, we were having a really good winter, and then it rained on Saturday! Temperatures are still above zero right now and are now going to get below freezing before Wednesday. Mirabel is shut down until better weather, the birds are just not coming enough to the bait when it’s warm up there. From Jan 7 to Jan 11, 85 SNBU banded pushing our total to 291 SNBU.
We also have a new site up and running in St-Roch-de-l’Achigan. The buntings were there before the warm weather so hopefully they’ll return after. Here is a photo of them at the new bait site.
How’s the weather down south?
Simon Duval

Maritime Provinces
Hi Rick
Yes we have some; Dorothy caught 15 last week in one session. Weather & schedules have been against us since! About 100 or so were around the Wilson farm.
Tony Diamond
(just outside) St. John

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