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.
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.
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.
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” Warbler||1,012||Warbling Vireo||8|
|American Redstart||521||Blue Jay||8|
|Swainson’s Thrush||468||“Slate-coloured” Junco||8|
|Yellow Warbler||391||Song Sparrow||8|
|Tennessee Warbler||174||Swamp Sparrow||8|
|Canada Warbler||140||Bay-breasted Warbler||7|
|Ovenbird||101||“Western” Palm Warbler||7|
|Black-and-white Warbler||101||Golden-crowned Kinglet||5|
|Red-eyed Vireo||99||Gray-cheeked Thrush||5|
|White-throated Sparrow||91||Eastern Phoebe||4|
|Mourning Warbler||77||Purple Finch||4|
|Northern Waterthrush||75||Yellow-bellied Sapsucker||3|
|Least Flycatcher||74||Blue-headed Vireo||3|
|Alder Flycatcher||73||Brown Creeper||3|
|Western Tanager||46||“Gambel’s” White-crowned Sparrow||3|
|Orange-crowned Warbler||45||“Yellow-shafted” Flicker||2|
|Magnolia Warbler||44||Yellow-bellied Flycatcher||2|
|Philadelphia Vireo||36||Winter Wren||2|
|Red-breasted Nuthatch||24||Hairy Woodpecker||1|
|Lincoln’s Sparrow||24||Western Wood-Pewee||1|
|Rose-breasted Grosbeak||24||House Wren||1|
|Black-capped Chickadee||20||Pine Siskin||1|
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet||16||Fox Sparrow||1|
|Common Yellowthroat||16||“Oregon” Junco||1|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||15||Le Conte’s Sparrow||1|
|Hermit Thrush||15||Savannah Sparrow||1|
|Wilson’s Warbler||14||Baltimore Oriole||1|
|Cedar Waxwing||11||Red-winged Blackbird||1|
|American Robin||10||Connecticut Warbler||1|
|Chipping Sparrow||10||Cape May Warbler||1|
|Clay-coloured Sparrow||9||Black-throated Green Warbler||1|
|Blackpoll Warbler||9||Total number of birds banded||3,896|
|Downy Woodpecker||8||Total number of species banded||64|