Posted | filed under Weekly Banding Reports.

Pictured: This Brown Creeper was the last bird banded in our Fall Migration Monitoring program, 2020.

After a week of high winds and few birds, on September 30 the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory completed the 2020 Fall Migration Monitoring season. And what a season it’s been! With approximately 3,944 birds banded (Table 1), this has been the busiest fall for captures in our 27 years of mist-netting.

With so many birds banded there were of course some oddities. Although we see them infrequently in the spring, we captured our first Gray Catbird during fall migration monitoring. Nashville Warblers also make this list. Range maps for this species suggest they are not found in Alberta, but we capture one or two every few years at the station. This year we captured an astonishing five Nashville Warblers!

Pictured (right): Gray Catbird banded this year. Although typically an uncommon visitor for our station, this year both spring and fall saw a few individuals on a handful of days.

Likewise, several other species broke their previous banding records, including Canada Warblers with 186 banded, surpassing the former record of 163 set in 2018. This species is designated as At Risk due primarily to habitat loss on their wintering grounds in South America. It is encouraging to see their numbers potentially on the rise.

Alongside these unusual captures were some exciting sightings. Among them was a Golden Eagle. Although juvenile Bald Eagles are commonly mistaken as Golden Eagles since it takes them about five years to get the characteristic white head and tail, Golden Eagles are actually quite uncommon locally. In fact, on September 21 we spotted our first Golden Eagle since 2001 and only the sixth Golden Eagle we have recorded in 27 years of nearly daily monitoring efforts in the fall.

Pictured: Commonly seen flying in large flocks over the canopy, Cedar Waxwings infrequently find themselves in our nets. With 30 captured, this species broke their previous banding record.

This fall we also recorded a species that we had never seen before at the station – a White-winged Dove! With a native range only extending as far north as Texas, this seems to be an impossible sighting at first glance. However, there have been occasional sightings of this species in Alberta with one bird causing a stir in June 1997 and other in 2019 when they visited Slave Lake residents’ backyards. Although I have heard this species may have historically been released in Southern Alberta for sport, this has been difficult to verify and I cannot easily explain why this bird found its way so far north. [The italicized section was edited on October 13, 2020]

The only monitoring program left to complete is Owl Migration Monitoring focusing on Northern Saw-whet Owls and Boreal Owls. This year has been slow, with only 48 Saw-whets and one Boreal banded so far. Unfortunately the recent windy conditions have interfered with this program as well. Hopefully things pick up before owl monitoring is concluded at the end of October.

Disclaimer: The numbers discussed are likely to change as I correct minor tallying mistakes – stay tuned for the official numbers in our Annual Report coming this winter.

By Robyn Perkins

LSLBO Bander-in-Charge

Table 1. In order of capture frequency, the unofficial total number of individuals banded and total recapture records for the 2020 Fall Migration Monitoring season, with species that broke their previous fall banding records bolded.

Species Banded Recaptured Total Captures
Myrtle Warbler 947 14 961
Tennessee Warbler 480 11 491
American Redstart 379 46 425
Swainson’s Thrush 302 85 387
Yellow Warbler 278 9 287
Ovenbird 188 17 205
Canada Warbler 187 16 203
White-throated Sparrow 135 42 177
Orange-crowned Warbler 143 1 144
Mourning Warbler 131 3 134
Black-and-white Warbler 116 14 130
Red-eyed Vireo 67 4 71
Alder Flycatcher 46 6 52
Least Flycatcher 43 2 45
Common Yellowthroat 40 2 42
Magnolia Warbler 42 0 42
Song Sparrow 28 12 40
Northern Waterthrush 35 1 36
Black-capped Chickadee 21 12 33
Cedar Waxwing 30 1 31
Hermit Thrush 20 10 30
Slate-colored Junco 27 0 27
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 24 0 24
Lincoln’s Sparrow 20 3 23
Western Tanager 20 0 20
Bay-breasted Warbler 18 0 18
Philadelphia Vireo 16 0 16
Swamp Sparrow 13 0 13
Clay-colored Sparrow 12 0 12
Sharp-shinned Hawk 12 0 12
White-crowned Sparrow (Gambell’s) 12 0 12
Red-breasted Nuthatch 10 0 10
Wilson’s Warbler 10 0 10
American Tree Sparrow 6 0 6
Blue Jay 5 1 6
Chipping Sparrow 6 0 6
American Robin 4 1 5
Blackpoll Warbler 5 0 5
Black-throated Green Warbler 5 0 5
Eastern Phoebe 5 0 5
Nashville Warbler 5 0 5
Pine Siskin 5 0 5
Blue-headed Vireo 4 0 4
Brown Creeper 4 0 4
Downy Woodpecker 4 0 4
Gray-cheeked Thrush 4 0 4
Purple Finch 4 0 4
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4 0 4
Warbling Vireo 4 0 4
Western Palm Warbler 4 0 4
Winter Wren 4 0 4
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2 0 2
Cape May Warbler 1 0 1
Connecticut Warbler 1 0 1
Fox Sparrow 1 0 1
Gray Catbird 1 0 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1 0 1
Le Conte’s Sparrow 1 0 1
Savannah Sparrow 1 0 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 0 1
TOTAL (60 species) 3944 313 4257