Posted | filed under Weekly Reports.

By Laura Brandon – Boreal Educator

Pictured: male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

If you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the sunshine and spend some time outdoors over the last week, you will likely have noticed an increase in the number of beautiful bird songs around your neighbourhood and in the forest. This is no coincidence! In previous years, the third week of May has consistently been the week when things really start to pick up at the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory. This year was no exception. New species are being recorded almost every day at the banding lab as our seasonal migrants begin to trickle in. Although banding numbers remain low, most of our locally-breeding warblers and sparrows have officially arrived on their breeding grounds for the summer. Others, like the Orange-crowned Warbler and Gray-cheeked Thrush, are stopping only briefly to forage while passing through on their journey further north. One of the highlights of the week was banding two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a male and a female, on the same day! Sapsuckers are one of the few long-distance migratory woodpeckers in the boreal forest and spend their winters in the southeastern United States and Panama.

On May 20th, the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory (LSLBO) participated in the Great Canadian Birdathon, a yearly fundraiser organized by Birds Canada. This year, we had two teams go head-to-head in a friendly competition to raise money for the LSLBO and bird conservation programs across Canada. Our own Bander in Charge Robyn Perkins, Field Assistant Cory Cardinal, and long-time LSLBO member Wayne Bowles competed together as Team Tanager in the Slave Lake area, while retired banders Richard and Nicole Krikun formed Team Birders in the Park closer to the city. Although the logistics were a little different than in previous years due to COVID-19, the premise was the same: the team that counts the most bird species in a 24-hour period wins! This year, Team Tanager, who scoured the area in separate vehicles and stayed in touch with each other remotely to maintain physical distancing, recorded 92 species. While the number of species was down by one from our 2019 results, some interesting sightings for 2020 included a Hooded Merganser, Horned Grebe, Baltimore Oriole, and a Eurasian Collared-Dove. However, Team Tanager was outmatched by Team Birders in the Park, who recorded an impressive 113 species.

(from left to right) Wayne Bowles, Cory Cardinal, & Robyn Perkins of Team Tanager

A great big thank you and congratulations to both teams! 75% of all donations received by both teams directly support research initiatives at the LSLBO, while the remaining funds go toward supporting bird conservation programs through Birds Canada all across the country.  Although our two teams have already finished the Great Canadian Birdathon, you can still make a donation to either team to help support the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory by following the links below:

Team Tanager:

Team Birders in the Park:

Thank you for your continued support!


Species observed (taxonomic order) in the local area by Team Tanager on May 20, 2020:

1.    Canada Goose 32.  Common Tern 63.  Ovenbird
2.    Gadwall 33.  Forster’s Tern 64.  Northern Waterthrush
3.    American Wigeon 34.  Belted Kingfisher 65.  Black-and-white Warbler
4.    Mallard 35.  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 66.  Tennessee Warbler
5.    Blue-winged Teal 36.  Downy Woodpecker 67.  Common Yellowthroat
6.    Northern Shoveler 37.  Hairy Woodpecker 68.  American Redstart
7.    Green-winged (American) Teal 38.  Black-backed Woodpecker 69.  Magnolia Warbler
8.    Canvasback 39.  Yellow-shafted Flicker 70.  Yellow Warbler
9.    Ring-necked Duck 40.  Merlin 71.  Western Palm Warbler
10.  Lesser Scaup 41.  Western Wood-Peewee 72.  Myrtle Warbler
11.  Surf Scoter 42.  Least Flycatcher 73.  Black-throated Green Warbler
12.  White-winged Scoter 43.  Eastern Phoebe 74.  Chipping Sparrow
13.  Long-tailed Duck 44.  Blue-headed Vireo 75.  Clay-colored Sparrow
14.  Bufflehead 45.  Philadelphia Vireo 76.  Le Conte’s Sparrow
15.  Common Goldeneye 46.  Blue Jay 77.  Song Sparrow
16.  Hooded Merganser 47.  Black-billed Magpie 78.  Lincoln’s Sparrow
17.  Common Merganser 48.  American Crow 79.  Swamp Sparrow
18.  Red-breasted Merganser 49.  Common Raven 80.  White-throated Sparrow
19.  Common Loon 50.  Tree Swallow 81. Western Tanager
20.  Horned Grebe 51.  Cliff Swallow 82.  Rose-breasted Grosbeak
21.  Red-necked Grebe 52.  Barn Swallow 83.  Red-winged Blackbird
22.  Double-crested Cormorant 53.  Black-capped Chickadee 84.  Brewer’s Blackbird
23.  Bald Eagle 54. White-breasted Nuthatch 85.  Common Grackle
24.  Northern Harrier 55.  Brown Creeper 86.  Brown-headed Cowbird
25.  Sora 56.  House Wren 87.  Baltimore Oriole
26.  Spotted Sandpiper 57.  Winter Wren 88.  Purple Finch
27.  Solitary Sandpiper 58.  Marsh Wren 89.  Pine Siskin
28.  Greater Yellowlegs 59.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet 90.  Evening Grosbeak
29.  Lesser Yellowlegs 60.  Gray-cheeked Thrush 91.  House Sparrow
30.  Franklin’s Gull 61.  Swainson’s Thrush 92.  Eurasian Collared-Dove
31.  Ring-billed Gull 62.  American Robin