Posted | filed under Weekly Reports.

In the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory’s final article of the year, we look back at our Fall Migration Monitoring season. Every day, rain or shine, between July 12 and September 30 we were able to document bird movements at our monitoring site approximately 15 km north of town.

Over these 81 days, we recorded around 51,000 birds between all our counting methods! Of the 129 species observed, the highlight was the second Swainson’s Hawk seen since 1996, with the first being this spring. Although Swainson’s Hawks are relatively easy to find around Edmonton, they prefer open areas and are much more difficult to find in the thick forests around the observatory.

Above: This Golden-crowned Kinglet was the last bird banded during Fall Migration Monitoring 2022. You can tell it is a male by the orange feathers in the crown where females only have yellow feathers.

An important component of our protocols is capturing birds using large nets when it is safe to do so during the monitoring period. This fall, these nets captured 3,896 birds from 64 species which were marked as individuals using an aluminum band stamped with a unique nine digit number. This is well above the average of 2,250 birds of 58 species banded per fall. In fact, 2022 was the third busiest fall of banding since monitoring began in 1994, but ended our three-year streak of consecutive record breaking banding totals.

Of all these captures, the five most frequently banded species contributed 66% of all band records. In first place was, as usual, Myrtle Warblers with 1,012 banded, followed by American Redstarts (521 banded), Swainson’s Thrushes (468 banded), and Yellow Warblers (391 banded). The only shake-up from recent trends was Tennessee Warblers. Although we still banded enough for them to be in fifth place, compared to 2021’s 1,174 Tennessee Warblers banded, they have experienced a sharp decline to just 174 banded in 2022. This dramatic drop in captures is not necessarily alarming since Tennessee Warblers are known to have cyclic populations that ebb and flow with Spruce Budworm densities.

Above: This Myrtle Warbler was the last banded by the LSLBO for 2022. Over a quarter of all captures this fall were of this species.

With so many captures it is unsurprising that no species saw record low captures and several species saw record highs. Through September, Blue Jays edged out their previous record of 6 banded in 2006 with 8 banded. Meanwhile steady captures of Western Tanagers (46 banded), Philadelphia Vireos (36 banded), and Red-eyed Vireos (99 banded) broke their previous record highs set last fall. Perhaps the biggest overachiever was Yellow Warblers with 391 banded surpassing their previous record of 291 banded in 2020. Capture highlights included the first Baltimore Oriole since 2006, a Red-winged Blackbird, and a Western Wood-pewee.

Above: The highlight of 2022’s captures was this Baltimore Oriole – only the sixth ever banded by the LSLBO.

The warm weather through September prevented steady observations of more northerly breeding species that had not begun moving in earnest before our monitoring concluded. As a result, we missed any movements of American Tree Sparrows and Snow Geese, and saw very few Slate-coloured Juncos and Greater White-fronted Geese.

The only program left to finish is Owl Migration Monitoring, which is seeing captures drop with cooling temperatures.

By Robyn Perkins, LSLBO Bander-in-Charge

Preliminary banding totals for all species captured during Fall Migration Monitoring 2022:

“Myrtle” Warbler1,012Warbling Vireo8
American Redstart521Blue Jay8
Swainson’s Thrush468“Slate-coloured” Junco8
Yellow Warbler391Song Sparrow8
Tennessee Warbler174Swamp Sparrow8
Canada Warbler140Bay-breasted Warbler7
Ovenbird101“Western” Palm Warbler7
Black-and-white Warbler101Golden-crowned Kinglet5
Red-eyed Vireo99Gray-cheeked Thrush5
White-throated Sparrow91Eastern Phoebe4
Mourning Warbler77Purple Finch4
Northern Waterthrush75Yellow-bellied Sapsucker3
Least Flycatcher74Blue-headed Vireo3
Alder Flycatcher73Brown Creeper3
Western Tanager46“Gambel’s” White-crowned Sparrow3
Orange-crowned Warbler45“Yellow-shafted” Flicker2
Magnolia Warbler44Yellow-bellied Flycatcher2
Philadelphia Vireo36Winter Wren2
Red-breasted Nuthatch24Hairy Woodpecker1
Lincoln’s Sparrow24Western Wood-Pewee1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak24House Wren1
Black-capped Chickadee20Pine Siskin1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet16Fox Sparrow1
Common Yellowthroat16“Oregon” Junco1
Sharp-shinned Hawk15Le Conte’s Sparrow1
Hermit Thrush15Savannah Sparrow1
Wilson’s Warbler14Baltimore Oriole1
Cedar Waxwing11Red-winged Blackbird1
American Robin10Connecticut Warbler1
Chipping Sparrow10Cape May Warbler1
Clay-coloured Sparrow9Black-throated Green Warbler1
Blackpoll Warbler9Total number of birds banded3,896
Downy Woodpecker8Total number of species banded64