Posted | filed under Weekly Reports.

For the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory (LSLBO), this past week has been unusual in a few ways. Some species seem to be late to arrive despite the unseasonably warm temperatures which have encouraged the trees to leaf out early. It’s hard to believe that this time last year it was snowing!

Above: The lab on May 9, 2023.

The snowy lab on May 9, 2022.

As well, early in the week, many birds were heading in the wrong direction. These southward flights may have been due to the fires near Utikuma as birds return to forage or find a safe alternative path north. After some poor weather on the weekend, May 8 became our busiest day so far with first encounters of several species and 86 birds captured – mostly Myrtle Warblers.

Above: Our field crew for 2023. From left to right, Robyn Perkins, Sarahanne Thompson, and Bronwyn Robinson.

With the arrival of May comes new field staff.

Joining us for her first year as the field assistant is Sarahanne Thompson. Sarahanne was born and raised in Stratford, Ontario and has helped with two fall monitoring seasons at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory. This is her first time in Western Canada and she is looking forward to honing her skills and watching the antics of Black-billed Magpies who are hard to find in South-eastern Ontario.

Returning for her fifth year with us and second as the Assistant Bander is Bronwyn Robinson who winters in Pickering, Ontario. She is most excited to explore the wider area while performing point count surveys if we receive funding for a proposed collaborative project with Vanderwell. She is also excited to run our owl banding program in the fall.

In her eighth year with the LSLBO, Robyn Perkins is excited to meet our many new volunteers and to witness the return of our previously banded breeding birds. In the short term, she is most excited for the Great Canadian Birdathon.

Above: One of our first banded birds to return from past years was this Myrtle Warbler captured on May 8. He was banded last July as a one year old and has now completed his second northward migration.

Birdathon is a national event where teams spend 24 hours attempting to find as many bird species as possible while raising money for their favourite bird conservation organizations. Last year the generosity of our supporters bought us a new laptop with a working battery and the processing power to handle our large datasets which the old laptop struggled with. This year’s donations may purchase a PurpleAir sensor (~$270 USD) to measure air pressure, humidity, and particulates to help us quantify wildfire smoke conditions. This will let us study associations between unusual migration activity and smoke or air pressure.

Two teams are competing for the LSLBO. Team Tanager composed of the field staff and our most dedicated member, Wayne Bowles, will be spending the morning of May 17 at the station before touring our local wetlands and feeders. Our retired field staff, Nicole and Richard Krikun of Team Birders in the Park, will be spending May 20 in Cypress Hills and Dinosaur Provincial Park.

By Robyn Perkins, LSLBO Bander-in-Charge