February 9th & 10th – Frigid Temperatures Return

The last two days have been very cold with windchills into the -20’s. The combination of cold and snow cover has kept our baiting site VERY busy. Both days we’ve had a steady stream of Snow Buntings seeking out the cut corn in the traps. No sooner do we take them out to band and process them than more are in them. On one round yesterday, Nancy took 63 buntings out of the 4 traps. In these conditions all we can do is “ring and fling” – no morphometric data except on those birds we are taking feather samples from (usually 8 birds per day).

Interestingly, the Merlin has not been around so the birds are a lot less skittish. The occasional fly-by by the Kestrel will put them up but they will return almost immediately. They obviously don’t consider it to be nearly the threat that the Merlin is.

Nancy got some help yesterday from Jim Smith, who runs the Rock Point Station part of Haldimand Bird Observatory (HBO). He wanted to come out and see for himself what all the commotion was about – and to experience frigid banding conditions. They had a really good day banding: 173 Snow Buntings, 1 Horned Lark, and 1 Lapland Longspur. They also retrapped 3 Snow Buntings banded in different locations: 2 by David Lamble in the Fergus area and 1 by Bill Read in the Glen Morris area. These birds have a BIG wintering range!

We had another excellent day today as well – a steady stream of birds. With the number we’re catching you’d think that many of them would be recaptures but this just isn’t the case. So where are they all coming from each day (and where are the banded birds going)? We set a new record for us today, banding 206 Snow Buntings, 6 Horned Larks, and 1 Lapland Longspur.


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