By Patti Campsall – Executive Director
The staff at the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory had just one word to describe this week; QUIET! After the initial rush of early season migrants like Dark-eye Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, and a wide range of waterfowl, migration has slowed down to a trickle. Although we are spotting a nice diversity of species, they are moving through in relatively low numbers. Despite the slow migration, some highlights this week included our first Western Palm Warbler and a Vesper Sparrow. Even the forest is quiet at the station except for the sounds of a few Song Sparrows, Myrtle Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, and our Eastern Phoebe fiercely defending a prime nesting spot on the back of the lab building. With the peak for spring migration taking place in the next few weeks, we can only hope that the rest of the migratory birds will be arriving soon.
The good news is that this slow period has enabled staff to identify some new ways to share sightings with the public unable to visit the station this season due to COVID-19. During migration, our staff complete a daily census by walking a specific route and record all the birds that they see actively migrating. Our Wednesday daily census is now being posted on eBird, the world’s largest citizen science project. In addition to being a great way to share our sightings with fellow birders, the huge eBird database has proven to be a valuable resource for scientists to learn more about species migration timing and ranges. To find our LSBLO daily census, go to ebird.org, choose “explore hotspots” and enter Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory. If you choose “view data”, you will see all the eBird sightings at the LSLBO. The daily census checklists are located under “recent visits” by the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory (group). So, what did they see on the latest May 13th Daily Census? 125 individuals from 22 different species including 34 Long-tailed ducks, 12 Common Mergansers, 3 Common Loons, 12 White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbirds and some of our favourite songbirds including Black and white Warbler, American Redstart, and Yellow Warbler.
Finally, some of our favourite birders will be taking part in the Great Canadian Birdathon on May 20th. The goal of this fundraiser is to see how many bird species you can spot in one day, while supporting bird conservation programs at the same time. This year, our two teams going head to head are Team Tanager (LSLBO banders and local member Wayne Bowles) and Team Birders in the Park (retired banders Richard and Nicole Krikun). Donations to these Birdathon teams are a wonderful way to support our birds and the LSLBO. 75% of the funds they raise directly supports our monitoring programs. So, go Teams! IF you would like to help support our teams, click on the link for their names, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.