A nice little week at the migration monitoring station

Nicole Krikun
For the Lakeside Leader

It has been a nice little week; fairly sunny, warm and most importantly, calm. We’ve seen increased numbers of birds migrating overhead now that the air is still, including the first few flocks of greater white-fronted geese. Banding has also improved with the calm weather and we are rapidly nearing the 1,000 mark for this fall season.
The bird diversity is what we would expect this time of year; we are seeing and catching predominantly myrtle warblers and that will likely remain the case until the end of September when we shut down. They are accompanied by orange-crowned warblers, white-crowned sparrows, palm warblers and a few early slate-coloured juncos.
In just the last couple of days black-capped and boreal chickadees have been observed migrating as well. Chickadees are resident species; even still, they occasionally do short migrations when they experience a year of high breeding success. On years when spring hits early, many pairs are able to raise two broods and so a lot of the young chickadees must strike out and find new places to call home.
We are also seeing (but never catching) lots of American pipits and Lapland longspurs. Both of these bird species are generally unheard of by the average joe, and they even escape the notice of many novice birders. This is a shame, as they are pretty (albeit a bit subtly coloured) little birds that are easy to observe during spring and fall migration. Both species enjoy open spaces. They nest in the Arctic tundra and spend their winters in the Great Plains of central United States. During migration they travel in medium to large flocks, stopping in empty lots, fields, ditches, berms, parking lots, shorelines and pretty much anywhere else that is flat and open. They become very hard to see when they are walking around on the ground, but they are very vocal. If you search the Internet for sound clips of their songs and calls you will be amazed by how many you hear just walking around town. Just today I counted/saw around 300 in a half hour walk on the trail along the highway.
On top of migration monitoring doing better, the northern saw-whet owl monitoring is off to a good start. I couldn’t operate the nets the first two nights due to high winds, but over the next three nights I’ve caught eight owls, which isn’t too shabby for this early in their season. I briefly mentioned it last week and I promised more details this week about family owl night. It is happening on the 23 of September from 8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. This event is generally very popular and space is limited so I urge you to call the Boreal Centre (780-849-8240) to register if you are keen to learn about owls, possibly see an owl, or just enjoy a fun night of crafts, hikes and activities.

What are your looking at? A northern saw-whet owl.

Blue is beautiful.

American pipit – all over the place, but seldom seen.


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