The wind picked up, no, surged during the night and when I woke up this morning I was in a blizzard with new snow being blown around by the winds creating white-out conditions on the roads. And, because I’ve been educating you to understand that you need cold and snow if you want to catch snow buntings, you recognized that these were the conditions I’ve been waiting for. When I got to Vernon’s house the traps, which he had set out 10 minutes before, were already full. We banded steadily throughout the morning; the pace didn’t tail off until the early afternoon when the wind began to drop and the temperature climbed above freezing. We ended up banding 111 Snow Buntings (bringing our total in Labrador to 195) and 1 Dark-eyed Junco. We also processed 23 buntings that we had banded on previous days.
We’ve often wondered what buntings do after they are banded and seem to leave the immediate bait site. It looks like they wander around the area searching out other patches of food. In the late afternoon we drove to a couple of birding “hotspots”. At one point, 3+ kilometers from our banding site, we passed a house with a busy feeder. A flock of ~30 Common Redpolls and 12 Snow Buntings flew up. The buntings landed on a nearby rooftop. Of the 12, we could see that at least 4 of them were sporting our yellow plastic bands. I guess they hit one restaurant, get their fill, and then move on to another. Probably a good idea to range around as concentrating in one spot might draw predators….and banders.