We tend to think of the Fall migration in terms of neotropical migrants leaving their nesting grounds in the boreal forest and heading down to the tropics to overwinter. But there’s another migration going on with birds aiming to return from the far north to……our area. Juncos and American Tree Sparrows, for example, breed in far northern Ontario but spend their winters in our backyards. We are looking forward to banded individuals returning – some several years old. Like old friends.
But another species is also making its way toward us. This one comes from the Arctic. Snow Buntings are on the move. Banding results have shown that many of the buntings that we see in southern Ontario spend their Summers in Greenland. The pictures you see here of Snow Buntings were taken by Lewis Campbell 80 kilometers off the coast of Labrador. The thinking is that these were birds making a cross-ocean journey from Greenland and had stopped for a rest on the ship. What an amazing bird it is!!
Here’s the email sequence:
(From Darrock Whitaker in Newfoundland):
FYI Snow Buntings are on the move in Eastern Canada – see the message below
from the Labrador bird email group. The Charlottetown she’s [Eva Luther] referring to is
the one in SE Labrador so these would probably be birds crossing the
Labrador Sea from Greenland.
(From Eva Luther):
These pictures were taken by Lewis Campbell of Charlottetown, about 80kms
off shore on the shrimp grounds. Wonderful pics.
(And not to be outdone, Emily McKinnon in Manitoba writes):
They are showing up in Manitoba now too – a report of a lone bird in Helca (about 2.5 hours north of Winnipeg, on the east of Lake Winnipeg). They are on their way!
It’s somehow awe-inspiring to think of these birds making their way from the Arctic to the South. What obstacles they have to overcome! I was thinking, on viewing some of these pictures, that the birds looked a little knackered. I wondered why they had stopped on the vessel. If that was the case, what would have happened to them if the ship hadn’t been there?