January 19th – Snow Bunting News


I received a couple of Snow Bunting news tidbits which go a long way to breaking up the tedium of living through a lockdown. I have been waiting anxiously for some “real” Canadian Winter weather to bring them into my neck of the woods but other than a couple of days a while back when cold and light snow cover produced a paltry flock I haven’t seen any – and it isn’t for a lack of trying.

Yesterday Bruce Murphy, who bands up in New Liskeard, (his partner, Joanne Goddard runs a wonderful banding program at the public school she teaches at there: “the School of Flock”.) contacted me to say that he’d recaptured one of “our” Snow Buntings: # 2791-56327. It was originally banded on January 3, 2019. At that time this male had just entered its second year, having hatched in the Summer of 2018. At the time it’s wing was 108 mm long; it weighed 35.1 g.; and was carrying no fat. I wonder where it spent this past Summer? And how did it get there?

And then today I got this lovely note from Lise Balthazar in Sheridan Rapids in Lanark County:


The number of Snow Buntings has increased just in the last few days. We
started with about 20 of them and now we’re up to about sixty! No doubt
the weather turning colder and all that fresh snow have something to do
with it, but I suspect that the word gets around when there’s a steady
supply of food somewhere!


This morning, as the snow was softly falling, the Buntings were flying
around, looking very much like snowflakes themselves. There is nothing
like standing in a snowy field on a bright sunny day, with a flock of
Snow Buntings flying overhead. Depending on their position in the sky,
they look like bright golden lights or as soon as they all turn -in
perfect synchronism- the black spots on their wing tips form a stunning
pattern on the blue sky. It’s a rare treat, for which I wait all year long.

Lise Balthazar
Sherdidan Rapids


Ya, I think word does get around….I also think that older, more experienced birds may lead the cohort to places where plentiful food has been found before – even in previous years. It’s just not chance alone…..


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