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Week 2, 2018 – The Waxwing train keeps on running!

August 14, 2018

Week 2 (August 8-14th) of fall migration monitoring at VLBO was slower than our phenomenal first week, as expected, but we still had well above average numbers of birds with 226 banded of 25 species, and 76 recaptures of 11 species. That brings our season totals to 607 banded and 151 recaps. The week started off quite busy with our two most productive days being August 9th and 11th with 50 and 44 birds banded on those days, respectively; but the activity petered off toward the end of the week. The wind storm on Saturday night and dense smoke may have had something to do with this drop. However, the overall station average for Week 2 is 164 birds of 25 species so it is typically a slower week; and in fact, this week is the third busiest ever Week 2 in the station’s 18 year history. Species diversity may have been lower than Week 1 but we had some exciting captures this week, including a Cooper’s Hawk (only VLBO’s 12th record), a Sora, our first 2 Yellow-breasted Chats of the season, and the first 3 Wilson’s Warblers of the season.

The top four species of the week were: Gray Catbird (36), Cedar Waxwing (36), Yellow Warbler 33), and Willow Flycatcher (26), which is similar to last week except Yellow Warbler jumped from fifth place to third. We still have not caught any Orange-crowned Warblers this season and no Nashville Warblers this week, both of which average almost 3 in Week 2.

Some other interesting things to note are that we’ve banded exceptionally high numbers of several species so far, in particular Cedar Waxwings, for which we’ve already almost doubled the seasonal average of 50 (we’ve banded 98) and are on track to beat the season record of 142 set way back in 2002. Other highs include Eastern Kingbird (seasonal mean of 2.5 and already 11 this year), Yellow Warbler (33 this week vs Week 2 mean of 23), and Gray Catbird (117 so far vs first two week mean of 78).

Below are the banding totals:

SPECIES Total Banded
Gray Catbird 36
Cedar Waxwing 36
Yellow Warbler 33
Willow Flycatcher 26
Song Sparrow 19
American Goldfinch 14
Northern Waterthrush 12
Common Yellowthroat 11
Veery 8
Eastern Kingbird 5
Warbling Vireo 3
Marsh Wren 3
Wilson’s Warbler 3
Black-headed Grosbeak 3
Western Wood-Pewee 2
American Robin 2
Yellow-breasted Chat 2
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Sora 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Red-shafted Flicker 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1
Pine Siskin 1

Total banded: 226, and 25 species


SPECIES Total Recaps
Song Sparrow 16
Gray Catbird 12
Northern Waterthrush 12
Yellow Warbler 9
Common Yellowthroat 8
Willow Flycatcher 7
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Cedar Waxwing 3
American Goldfinch 3
Veery 2
Wilson’s Warbler 1

Total recaptured: 76, and 11 species



A New Start – 2018!

August 7, 2018

The 2018 banding season is once again underway at Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory, starting up on August 1st. This year we have a change of guard with Matthias Bieber coming in as the Bander In Charge and Jason Bieber as the Banding Assistant.

The season started with a bang – we banded 381 birds of 32 species and had 75 recaptures of 9 species, making it the busiest first week on record with the second highest species total, and one of the busiest weeks in the station’s history overall! The overall average for week one is 195.1 birds of 25 species. We also had 9 unbanded birds of 6 species, including California Quail, Rufous Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbird. The first three days were especially busy with 76 birds banded and 16 recaps on Aug. 1st, then 61 banded and 14 recaps on Aug. 2nd, followed by 79 banded and 10 recaps on Aug. 3rd. The mobile banding lab was also moved into place during the first day of banding. The lab was orchestrated by Sharon Mansiere, Chairperson of VLBO, and custom-designed and built by students in the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program at Okanagan College in Penticton, with input from various involved parties. This will be our second year using the lab, which is a huge asset to the station as it improves both the banding experience and educational components of the station.

The top four species of the week were: Gray Catbird (81), Cedar Waxwing (62), Willow Flycatcher (51), and Song Sparrow (42), which are typically abundant during this time of year but all are well above average with the major outlier being Cedar Waxwing, for which the average is only about 12 in the first week. Highlights included 3 Pine Siskins (which aren’t always captured during the first week), 1 Dusky Flycatcher, 2 MacGillivray’s Warblers, 6 Eastern kingbirds, and three species of Hummingbirds banded: Black-chinned, Rufous and Calliope. One notable absence was Orange-crowned Warbler, of which at least a few are normally netted during the first week.

Below are the banding totals:

Gray Catbird 81
Cedar Waxwing 62
Willow Flycatcher 51
Song Sparrow 42
Yellow Warbler 41
American Goldfinch 29
Common Yellowthroat 14
Black-capped Chickadee 7
Northern Waterthrush 7
Eastern Kingbird 6
Veery 6
Marsh Wren 4
American Robin 3
Pine Siskin 3
Rufous Hummingbird 2
Calliope Hummingbird 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Red-shafted Flicker 2
Western Wood-Pewee 2
Warbling Vireo 2
MacGillivray’s Warbler 2
Black-chinned Hummingbird 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
House Wren 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Western Tanager 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Black-headed Grosbeak 1
Lazuli Bunting 1
Bullock’s Oriole 1

VLBO’s very picturesque backdrop.


Matthias prepares to band a bird in the new banding lab.


The result of a busy net round!


Jason with a newly banded Downy Woodpecker.

2018 Season Coming up! – Volunteers Needed

July 23, 2018

Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory (VLBO) is gearing up for August to October banding. The station got its new Banding Lab “broken in” last year. If you have not seen it, then you have been away too long! It was made to order by Sustainable Construction Management students from Okanagan College and providing just the right touch of convenience while being light on the land.

This year VLBO welcomes a new Bander-in-charge, Matthias Bieber, and Assistant Bander, Jason Bieber. Both Matthias and Jason have extensive experience banding in Canada and other countries, as well as with local projects in the Okanagan.

  • Volunteers: Please use our SignUp site (see link below and also on our Volunteers page) if you want to volunteer in the banding lab or conduct the morning bird census, or even helping to get the station set-up. If you cannot navigate the online sign-up then email us and let us help with that process If you would like to volunteer in other ways (e.g., fundraising, event set-up) please let us know that as well. Station setup is coming up this week on July 25th and 28th and we could really use your help!
  • Visitors: If you just want to do a station visit and are not ready for an official volunteer role, we encourage you to email us at in advance to let us know you are planning to be at the station. Some days we have group bookings and we would like to ensure that you are picking a day when you will have an enjoyable visit and get the experience you would like. (Or click the Facebook site to send us an email)

Just a reminder that we have a number of ways for you to stay connected: Facebook @vaseuxlakebirds, Twitter @vaseuxlakebirds, and again we have the official link for signing up for volunteering at SignUp with tasks starting as soon as July 24th, ( or email ( We also have a new Volunteers Facebook Group which will be very useful to join if you plan on being a regular volunteer.
More information on how to use SignUp.

We’re using to organize our upcoming SignUps.

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our SignUp on

2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.

3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on

Note: does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and we can sign you up manually at

Week 3, 2017: A quiet week

August 26, 2017

Hi all;

Week 3 of the banding season was a very slow week. Numbers of many of the local station breeders are very low which is possibly due to this year’s wet spring and early summer causing an abbreviated breeding season as birds started nesting later and as a result completed fewer broods and finished breeding earlier. Results from another bander seem to confirm the early departure.
For the week we banded 106 birds of 22 species and recaptured 31 birds of 8 species. This is the second lowest week 3 banding total and the species total is also the second lowest. New banded species for the week were Cooper’s Hawk, Rufous Hummingbird, Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Chipping Sparrow and Lincoln’s Sparrow. Banding highlights included Cooper’s Hawk-1 (10th banding record) and Rufous Hummingbird-1. Here’s the banding numbers for the week and the season ( ).

Sharp-shinned Hawk-0 (1)
Cooper’s Hawk-1 (1)
Sora-0 (1)
Black-chinned Hummingbird-0 (1)
Rufous Hummingbird-1 (1)
Downy Woodpecker-0 (1)
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker-1 (1)
Western Wood-pewee-2 (11)
Willow Flycatcher-9 (54)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1) (2nd banding record)
Least Flycatcher-0 (4)
Hammond’s Flycatcher-0 (1)
Unidentified empid-0 (1)
Eastern Kingbird-1 (4)
Warbling Vireo-0 (1)
Black-capped Chickadee-0 (8)
Marsh Wren-1 (20)
Veery-3 (8)
Swainson’s Thrush-2 (3)
American Robin-0 (5)
Gray Catbird-22 (87)
Cedar Waxwing-2 (75)
Orange-crowned Warbler-2 (5)
Yellow Warbler-8 (34)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-0 (1)
Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-0 (1)
Northern Waterthrush-4 (36)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-0 (4)
Common Yellowthroat-22 (45)
Wilson’s Warbler-1 (3)
Yellow-breasted Chat-0 (3)
Western Tanager-1 (3)
Spotted Towhee-1 (2)
Chipping Sparrow-1 (1)
Lark Sparrow-0 (1) (3rd banding record)
Song Sparrow-13 (47)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-2 (2)
Black-headed Grosbeak-0 (6)
Lazuli Bunting-0 (2)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Brown-headed Cowbird-0 (3) (ties season record)
House Finch-0 (1) (5th banding record)
American Goldfinch-6 (79)

Total-106 (570) birds of 22 (41) species plus 2 birds of 2 additional forms banded plus 32 (112) birds of 8 (14) species recaptured.

Week 2, 2017: Waxwing invasion

August 18, 2017

Week 2 started with 9 nets open but we got a 10th net up by the middle of the week. For the week we banded 219 birds of 24 species and recaptured 38 birds of 10 species. The banding total is 60 birds above the average for the week. New banded species for the year were Black-chinned Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Swainson’s Thrush, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Lark Sparrow and House Finch. Banding highlights for the week were Black-chinned Hummingbird-1, Least Flycatcher-2, Yellow-breasted Chat-2, Lark Sparrow-1 (3rd banding record) and House Finch-1 (5th banding record). Certainly another highlight was a large influx of Cedar Waxwings resulting in 62 being banded, double the season average.

Image may contain: bird

This Lark Sparrow was only the 3rd one ever banded at VLBO.

Here are the banding totals for week 2 and for the season ( ):
Sharp-shinned Hawk-0 (1)
Sora-0 (1)
Black-chinned Hummingbird-1 (1)
Downy Woodpecker-1 (1)
Western Wood-pewee-5 (9)
Willow Flycatcher-19 (45)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1) (2nd banding record)
Least Flycatcher-2 (4)
Hammond’s Flycatcher-0 (1)
Unid entified empid-0 (1)
Eastern Kingbird-3 (3)
Warbling Vireo-0 (1)
Black-capped Chickadee-3 (8)
Marsh Wren-8 (19)
Veery-3 (5)
Swainson’s Thrush-1 (1)
American Robin-0 (5)
Gray Catbird-26 (65)
Cedar Waxwing-62 (73)
Orange-crowned Warbler-0 (3)
Yellow Warbler-7 (26)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-0 (1)
Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-0 (1)
Northern Waterthrush-16 (32)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-4 (4)
Common Yellowthroat-11 (23)
Wilson’s Warbler-1 (2)
Yellow-breasted Chat-2 (3)
Western Tanager-0 (2)
Spotted Towhee-0 (1)
Lark Sparrow-1 (1) (3rd banding record)
Song Sparrow-13 (34)
Black-headed Grosbeak-3 (6)
Lazuli Bunting-1 (2)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Brown-headed Cowbird-0 (3) (ties season record)
House Finch-1 (1) (5th banding record)
American Goldfinch-25 (73)

Total-219 (464) birds of 24 (36) species plus 2 additional forms banded plus 38 (80) birds of 10 (13) species recaptured.

Week 1, 2017: A new season begins!

August 17, 2017

The banding station opened on August 1st with only 8 of our normal 14 nets up due to high water at the station. There’s just too much water still from the spring flooding. We banded 30 birds on the first day with the highlight being a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We managed to get a 9th net up on the 5th day as the water receded some.
During the 1st week we banded 245 birds of 29 species and recaptured 42 birds of 8 species. The banding total is 50 birds above the week 1 average, a great result considering the fact that one third of our nets are not up. Highlights for the week were Sharp-shinned Hawk-1, Sora-1, Alder Flycatcher-1 (2nd banding record), Least Flycatcher-2 and Yellow-breasted Chat-1. We also banded an unidentified empidonax flycatcher that was almost certainly a hybrid. The measurements we took matched no species. Here’s the banding results for the 1st week.

Sharp-shinned Hawk-1
Western Wood-pewee-4
Willow Flycatcher-26
Alder Flycatcher-1 (2nd banding record)
Least Flycatcher-2
Hammond’s Flycatcher-1
Unidentified empid-1
Warbling Vireo-1
Black-capped Chickadee-5
Marsh Wren-11
American Robin-5
Gray Catbird-39
Cedar Waxwing-11
Orange-crowned Warbler-3
Yellow Warbler-19
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-1
Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-1
Northern Waterthrush-16
Common Yellowthroat-12
Wilson’s Warbler-1
Yellow-breasted Chat-1
Western Tanager-2
Spotted Towhee-1
Song Sparrow-21
Black-headed Grosbeak-3
Lazuli Bunting-1
Bullock’s Oriole-1
Brown-headed Cowbird-3 (ties season record)
American Goldfinch-48

Total-245 birds of 29 species plus 2 additional forms banded and 42 birds of 8 species recaptured

Great Canadian Birdathon Fundraiser – The Okanagan Big Day

April 15, 2017

The Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory (VLBO) is once again organizing a “Great Canadian Birdathon” as part of the Meadowlark Nature Festival on May 20, 2017. This event is a fundraiser in support of the important conservation work and operations at VLBO.


Orange-crowned Warbler

Did you know that 340 species of birds can be found in the Okanagan? And 205 of those breed here! Our region is one of the most ecologically unique in Canada and has an amazing diversity of birds! Unfortunately many ecosystems in the Okanagan are threatened because native habitat is under pressure from increasing development. Several species of birds classified as ‘species-at-risk’ depend on native habitats in the Okanagan to breed, refuel during migration and sustain themselves during winter. VLBO is a banding station in the South Okanagan which conducts research on migrating birds. This research contributes towards bird population trend analyses at national and regional scales and helps us determine how well local species


Bewick’s Wren

are doing. This is especially important in developing plans for conservation and recovery. Furthermore, school programs at the banding station educate elementary kids about bird biology and conservation every fall, making VLBO a great resource for educating the next generation and inspiring young ornithologists! Through this event we encourage participants to fundraise for VLBO so that the research can continue and expand.


This year, in addition to the traditional Big Day and Little Big Day, we will be hosting a Novice Big Day event, designed for beginners who aren’t quite ready to bird all day long.

Count Options:

  • Big Day: This is an all day/night hike or bike extravaganza for keen birders. There are usually a handful of groups that participate in this endeavor. You can join an existing group of form your own. The groups will start sometime after midnight and go until they cannot bird anymore (~22 hours) and is non-motorized (no vehicle transportation during the count, participants are allowed to be dropped off and picked up at the end of the day).
  • Little Big Day: This option is an 8-hour count that starts with the dawn chorus around 4:00 am until around noon. Choose your own birding location. Non-motorized birding is encouraged or, if you are driving, at least staying within a localized area.
  • Novice Big Day: This is a 5-hour count designed especially for novice individual birders and families, ages 10 and up. The group will be led by experienced birders and transportation to various birding hotspots in the South Okanagan will be shared by carpool. The day will start at noon and end at 5:00 pm. Participants will be eligible for unique prizes afterwards. This event will be preceded by an introductory birding workshop which will act as a primer for the birdathon. participants are welcome to attend this workshop by registering with the Meadowlark Nature Festival.

All participants are encouraged to fundraise for the Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory leading up to this event through the Great Canadian Birdathon Website. We ask that all participants raise a minimum of $30 (either through a personal donation or pledges) which mostly covers the cost of the Birdathon t-shirts sent out by Bird Studies Canada, if you choose to receive one.

The Count-Up: Participants are welcome to attend the Count-Up Brunch to compare lists, share stories and hand out awards on the morning of May 23rd. In addition, all participants that register and help fundraise will be invited to VLBO for a personal tour and demonstration at the banding station later in 2017. The count up will be held at the Cannings residence. More details to follow.

How to register for this event:

  1. Go to the Great Canadian Birdathon website to register and join our fundraising team called “Emusingly Hawkward” at:

The Great Canadian Birdathon Homepage

Here you can register as an individual or a couple/family as part of our team. If you register early enough, you can receive a birdathon t-shirt to wear for the Big Day (with donation). If you want to start your own team, please make sure to select “Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory” from the drop down list as the recipient organization of your fundraising. Now you can start fundraising! Direct all interested donors to this website. You can also print pledge forms and collect donations in person and then enter the pledges in to the site manually. Donations are eligible for a tax receipt from Bird Studies Canada. The website will tally donations made in your name and also show our team total.

Our team page can be accessed directly at:

  1. Once you have completed Step 1, please send the following information to
    1. Your name(s)
    2. The name of the team you’ve joined or started
    3. Your email address/phone number
    4. The count option you will participate in
    5. Where you are from and if you have your own vehicle

Accommodations and Travel Arrangements:
If you require any field gear like binos, or need a place to pitch a tent (or if you’re lucky maybe a spare room), please let us know and we will try our best to accommodate your needs. We are looking into having transportation options available but space will be limited. Please direct any inquiries to

Please continue to check out our website at as we update information about the event and PRIZES!