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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.

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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

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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: http://birdscanada.kintera.org/birdathon/emusinglyhawkward

  1. Once you have completed Step 1, please send the following information to vlboinformation@gmail.com:
    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 vlboinformation@gmail.com.

Please continue to check out our website at https://vlbo.wordpress.com/ as we update information about the event and PRIZES!

Thanks to the Volunteers!

December 2, 2016

We at Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory (VLBO) would like to take the time to thank all the dedicated volunteers for the time and work they’ve put in this year to make this banding season a success and to contribute to the sustainability of the station and our ongoing research as a whole. We had volunteers participate in various capacities and events throughout the year and we owe much gratitude to everyone who helped out. From those who participated in the Great Canadian Birdathon, particularly the youth teams who managed to raise a significant amount, and the people who helped with equipment set up and take down at the banding station, the individuals who assisted with the organization of events such as the School Programs and Open House, to those who contributed their time to help with banding itself which involved some very early mornings and late nights – thank you!

The year 2016 was a very productive one for VLBO, and arguably one of our most successful, with regard to banding. We banded 2086 birds this season which is the third highest number on record, of 62 species. Furthermore, we banded record numbers of birds for the months of August and October. It was also another successful year for the Nature Canada funded school programs which saw 10 school groups of ecstatic kids in grades 3-5 visit the banding station to witness banding firsthand and learn all about bird migration and adaptation.

The Baillie Birdathon fundraiser event held in May, which provides a significant portion of VLBO’s funding each year, was also a notable accomplishment, both in terms of participation and funds raised. Several of the youth birders took great initiative with fundraising and we also had a few brand new and novice birders join us on our Big Day. All in all, more funds were raised than in recent years and a good deal of interest was generated.

VLBO would not be operational without your support. Many thanks to all and we hope to see you again next year!

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Week 11, 2016: The season wraps up

October 26, 2016

The fall banding season is officially over at VLBO, and after what has been a phenomenal season for environmental conditions, the bad weather finally caught up with us during the last week (Oct. 10-15).  With banding hours limited due to rain and high winds, it’s not surprising that banding numbers were below the average for the first time this year; however, the number of species banded was above average due to some good, last minute birds. For the week we banded 57 birds of 17 species, recaptured 30 birds of 10 species and netted an additional 4 birds of 1 species. New banded species for the year were Sharp-shinned Hawk, Pacific Wren, Steller’s Jay (3rd banding record) and Palm Warbler (2nd banding record). Other banding highlights were another Swamp Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow. The most abundant species of the week were Ruby-crowned Kinglet (13), Song Sparrow (8), Dark-eyed Junco (6) and American Goldfinch (6). After several weeks with good numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers, they finally seem to have completed their passage through the region, with only 1 banded this week.

Saw-whet Owl banding was cancelled for 4 of the 6 nights due to poor weather and the remaining 2 nights had an almost full moon with no clouds which meant almost no owls.

Despite the poor week, the 241 birds banded in October is a new record high for the month. The 2086 birds banded for the season is our 3rd highest banding total, missing second place (in 2015) by only 9 birds. Stay tuned for a complete season summary!

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An AHY (after hatch year) male Sharp-shinned Hawk. After witnessing several of these escaping from our nets, we finally caught one on the 2nd last day of the season.

Here are the banding totals for the week and the season ( ).

California Quail-4 netted (16 netted)

Sharp-shinned Hawk-1 (1)

Cooper’s Hawk-0 (1)(9th banding record)
Virginia Rail-0 (3)
Northern Saw-whet Owl-2 (28)
Rufous Hummingbird-0 (2)
Calliope Hummingbird -0 (3)(7th-9th banding records, new season high)
Belted Kingfisher-0 (5)(new season record)
Red-naped Sapsucker-0 (2)
Downy Woodpecker-0 (5)
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker-0 (5)
Western Wood-pewee-0 (16)
Willow Flycatcher-0 (121)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1)(1st banding record!!!)
Least Flycatcher-0 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher-0 (7)
Gray Flycatcher-0 (1) (9th banding record)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-0 (3)(new season high)
Eastern Kingbird-0 (1)
Cassin’s Vireo-0 (3)
Warbling Vireo-0 (7)
Red-eyed Vireo-0 (3)

Steller’s Jay-1 (1)(3rd banding record)

Black-capped Chickadee-3 (17)
Bewick’s Wren-0 (8)(new season high)
House Wren-0 (3)

Pacific Wren-2 (2)

Marsh Wren-1 (45)
Golden-crowned Kinglet-0 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-13 (67)
Veery-0 (32)
Swainson’s Thrush-0 (14)
American Robin-0 (9)( new season high)
Gray Catbird-0 (196)
Cedar Waxwing-0 (33)
Orange-crowned Warbler-0 (175)
Tennessee Warbler-0 (3)
Nashville Warbler-0 (3)
Yellow Warbler-0 (129)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-1 (98)

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler-0 (53)

Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-0 (83)

(Western) Palm Warbler-1 (1)(2nd banding record)

Northern Waterthrush-0 (19)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-0 (12)
Common Yellowthroat-2 (262)(new season high)
Wilson’s Warbler-0 (42)
Yellow-breasted Chat-0 (8)(new season high)
Western Tanager-0 (11)
Spotted Towhee-1 (15)
Chipping Sparrow-0 (3)
Savannah Sparrow-0 (5)

Fox Sparrow-0 (1)

Song Sparrow-8 (240)(new season record)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-5 (172)

Swamp Sparrow-1 (4)

White-throated Sparrow-1 (2)

(Gambel’s) White-crowned Sparrow-0 (32)

Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco-6 (21)

Dark-eyed (Unidentified) Junco-2 (2)

Black-headed Grosbeak-0 (7)
Lazuli Bunting-0 (7)
Red-winged Blackbird-0 (1)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Cassin’s Finch-0 (3)(5th-7th banding records; new season high))
American Goldfinch-6 (24)

Total-57 (2086) birds of 17 (62) species banded, 4 (16) birds of 1 species netted, plus 30 (513) recaptures of 10 (32)(new record high) species.

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View over the marsh at the north end of Vaseux Lake from the net lane trail.

 

 

 

Week 10, 2016: A landmark week in October

October 16, 2016

Week 10 of the banding season (Oct. 3 – 9) ended last Sunday and it was a week of contrasts. We had our second biggest October day ever with 41 banded and our two slowest days of the year with 7 and 11 birds banded. In the end it was our highest week 10 banding total ever despite the number of species banded being below the average, again. For the week we banded 131 birds of 16 species and recaptured 33 birds of 11 species. Although bird activity at the station is undoubtedly dropping off, the numbers are still quite high for October which has seen really dramatic declines in past years. No new species for the year were banded but the highlights were 2 Swamp Sparrows and a Nashville Warbler. Interestingly this is the 3rd time we’ve banded a Nashville Warbler in this week so there appears to be pattern of late birds at this time. Thanks so some late individuals, likely from late broods, we broke the station record for number of Common Yellowthroats banded this week with 260 banded for the season! The most abundant species of the week were Ruby-crowned Kinglet (36), Yellow-rumped Warbler (29), Dark-eyed Junco (12) and Song Sparrow (11). Also of interest was a Barn Owl that was seen on the daily census and also heard the previous evening during the owl banding.

As well, only 8 new Northern Saw-whet owls were banded this week.

The school programs wrapped up with three different groups visiting the station through the week. Overall it was a very successful program with all of the participating kids having been able to see birds getting banded.

Kids watch Doug band our 3rd Virginia Rail of the season during the school program.

Here are the banding totals for the week and the season ( ).

California Quail-0 netted (12 netted)
Cooper’s Hawk-0 (1)(9th banding record)
Virginia Rail-1 (3)
Northern Saw-whet Owl-8 (26)
Rufous Hummingbird-0 (2)
Calliope Hummingbird -0 (3)(7th-9th banding records, new season high)
Belted Kingfisher-0 (5)(new season record)
Red-naped Sapsucker-0 (2)
Downy Woodpecker-1 (5)
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker-0 (5)
Western Wood-pewee-0 (16)
Willow Flycatcher-0 (121)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1)(1st banding record!!!)
Least Flycatcher-0 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher-0 (7)
Gray Flycatcher-0 (1) (9th banding record)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-0 (3)(new season high)
Eastern Kingbird-0 (1)
Cassin’s Vireo-0 (3)
Warbling Vireo-0 (7)
Red-eyed Vireo-0 (3)
Black-capped Chickadee-0 (14)
Bewick’s Wren-0 (8)(new season high)
House Wren-0 (3)
Marsh Wren-6 (44)
Golden-crowned Kinglet-0 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-36 (54)
Veery-0 (32)
Swainson’s Thrush-0 (14)
American Robin-1 (9)( new season high)
Gray Catbird-0 (196)
Cedar Waxwing-0 (33)
Orange-crowned Warbler-8 (175)
Tennessee Warbler-0 (3)
Nashville Warbler-1 (3)
Yellow Warbler-0 (129)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-10 (97)

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler-6 (53)

Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-13 (83)
Northern Waterthrush-0 (19)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-0 (12)
Common Yellowthroat-4 (260)(new season high)
Wilson’s Warbler-1 (42)
Yellow-breasted Chat-0 (8)(new season high)
Western Tanager-0 (11)
Spotted Towhee-0 (14)
Chipping Sparrow-0 (3)
Savannah Sparrow-0 (5)

Fox Sparrow-0 (1)

Song Sparrow-11 (232)(new season record)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-9 (167)

Swamp Sparrow-2 (3)

White-throated Sparrow-0 (1)

(Gambel’s) White-crowned Sparrow-1 (32)

Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco-12 (15)

Black-headed Grosbeak-0 (7)
Lazuli Bunting-0 (7)
Red-winged Blackbird-0 (1)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Cassin’s Finch-0 (3)(5th-7th banding records; new season high))
American Goldfinch-0 (18)

Total-131 (2029) birds of 16 (58) species banded, 0 (12) birds of 1 species netted, plus 33 (483) recaptures of 11 (31) species

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Sumac along the census trail in full fall colours.

Week 9, 2016: Songbirds wind down and owls pick up

October 4, 2016

We finished Week 9 (Sept. 26 to Oct. 2) of the banding season with the advent of October on the weekend. This week we banded 139 birds of 13 species, recaptured 32 birds of 11 species and netted 2 additional birds of 1 species. As has been the trend this season, the banding numbers for the week are again above average. The number of species banded was however quite low and below average, as only a few late migrants remain in what seems to have been a rather early migration season. With migration now winding down, even the mid-to-late migrant species have slowed in numbers and some of the overwintering species have begun to appear, such Dark-eyed Junco. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which are typically one of the last migrants (and some overwinter in the Okanagan) are increasing in number. Yellow-rumped Warbler was again the most abundant (37), followed by Song Sparrow (21), Orange-crowned Warbler (14) and Lincoln’s Sparrow (12).   The only new banded species for the year was White-throated Sparrow. Another highlight was the second Virginia Rail of the season. Overall, September was a good month for banding and with just under 900 birds banded, it is the fourth best September on record.

An adult male Oregon’ Dark-eyed Junco (left); A female Ruby-crowned Kinglet (right).

Northern Saw-whet Owl captures are on the rise, with 13 banded this week; a nice improvement over the past two weeks. If you would like to come see the owls, now is a good time as we have less than two weeks left!

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Kids from a local grade 3 & 4 class watch a bird being banded during one of our interpretive school programs.

We also had a successful week for school programs. Four difference schools visited this week and all the kids were fortunate enough to see birds being banded. The programs will wrap up this coming week, with three school groups remaining.

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Natasha checks the nets with her well trained companion, Maestro.

 

 

 

Thanks to volunteer Natasha Wilbrink, who spent every day of the week at VLBO helping out with banding activities and the school program. Keen to develop her banding and extraction skills, she has made good progress so far and has a few more days at the station this week.

Here are the banding totals for the week and the season (in brackets).

California Quail-2 netted (12 netted)
Cooper’s Hawk-0 (1)(9th banding record)
Virginia Rail-1 (2)
Northern Saw-whet Owl-13 (18)
Rufous Hummingbird-0 (2)
Calliope Hummingbird -0 (3)(7th-9th banding records, new season high)
Belted Kingfisher-0 (5)(new season record)
Red-naped Sapsucker-0 (2)
Downy Woodpecker-0 (4)
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker-0 (5)
Western Wood-pewee-0 (16)
Willow Flycatcher-0 (121)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1)(1st banding record!!!)
Least Flycatcher-0 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher-0 (7)
Gray Flycatcher-0 (1) (9th banding record)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-0 (3)(new season high)
Eastern Kingbird-0 (1)
Cassin’s Vireo-0 (3)
Warbling Vireo-0 (7)
Red-eyed Vireo-0 (3)
Black-capped Chickadee-0 (14)
Bewick’s Wren-0 (8)(new season high)
House Wren-0 (3)
Marsh Wren-5 (38)
Golden-crowned Kinglet-0 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-7 (18)
Veery-0 (32)
Swainson’s Thrush-0 (14)
American Robin-1 (8)( new season high)
Gray Catbird-0 (196)
Cedar Waxwing-0 (33)
Orange-crowned Warbler-14 (167)
Tennessee Warbler-0 (3)
Nashville Warbler-0 (2)
Yellow Warbler-0 (129)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-17 (87)

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler-14 (47)

Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-16 (70)
Northern Waterthrush-0 (19)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-0 (12)
Common Yellowthroat-13 (256)(new season high)
Wilson’s Warbler-0 (41)
Yellow-breasted Chat-0 (8)(new season high)
Western Tanager-0 (11)
Spotted Towhee-0 (14)
Chipping Sparrow-0 (3)
Savannah Sparrow-0 (5)

Fox Sparrow-0 (1)

Song Sparrow-21 (221)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-12 (158)

Swamp Sparrow-0 (1)

White-throated Sparrow-1 (1)

(Gambel’s) White-crowned Sparrow-2 (31)

Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco-2 (3)

Black-headed Grosbeak-0 (7)
Lazuli Bunting-0 (7)
Red-winged Blackbird-0 (1)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Cassin’s Finch-0 (3)(5th-7th banding records; new season high))
American Goldfinch-0 (18)

Total-139 (1898) birds of 13 (58) species banded, 2 (12) birds of 1 species netted, plus 32 (450) recaptures of 11 (29) species

Week 8, 2016: A fantastic week!

September 27, 2016

Week 8 of the banding season (Sept. 19-25) was a busy one and ended with terrific numbers of birds!  For the week we banded 279 birds of 18 species, netted 2 birds of 1 species and recaptured 44 birds of 12 species. Banding numbers increased daily from the beginning of the week to the end with the peak day being Friday when we banded 60 new birds and recaptured 15 – the highest total of the year (and second highest for birds banded)! The 279 banded birds also makes it the second best week this season for birds banded and the second highest week 8 ever. But, the number of species is actually slightly below the average for week 8. New banded species for the year were Swamp Sparrow and Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco. Aside from the Swamp Sparrow there were no major banding highlights for the week as we had relatively low diversity. However, the good numbers of warblers made up for it. The top species of the week were Yellow-rumped Warbler: 103 (‘Audubon’s’, ‘Myrtle’ and ‘Unidentified’ Yellow-rumped Warblers combined), Common Yellowthroat: 44, Orange-crowned Warbler: 40, and Lincoln’s Sparrow and Song Sparrow: both with 28.

The majority of the week’s warblers were captured in just 3 nets, with net 7, the most productive of all, pictured (left). A Lincoln’s Sparrow showcasing its distinctive ‘buffy necklace’ (right).

Saw-whet owl banding continued this week but was not overly productive, with only 4 new owls banded. One night did yield three captures, however. The cause of these low numbers is uncertain; it could be due to unsuitable weather conditions for banding or migration, high traffic volumes which likely interferes with our call playback attractant or it could just be a poor year for owls in the region.

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Northern Saw-whet owl being banded (photo: David Wilde).

 

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This owl is patiently awaiting its release (photo: David Wilde).

And finally, it was also a busy week for visitors and education at the station. Our school programs which are funded by Nature Canada, started on Wednesday and will be continuing almost every weekday through the first week in October. On Sunday we held our second annual Migration Open House which was well attended by people of all ages. Guided walks, talks, learning materials and up close encounters with the birds were enjoyed by many! The event was even featured by several local media outlets.

Kids being taken out on a net run as part of the school program (left). Visitors watching the banding in action at the Migration Open House (right).

Below are the banding numbers for the week and the season ( ).
California Quail-2 netted (10 netted)
Cooper’s Hawk-0 (1)(9th banding record)
Virginia Rail-0 (1)
Northern Saw-whet Owl-4 (5)
Rufous Hummingbird-0 (2)
Calliope Hummingbird -0 (3)(7th-9th banding records, new season high)
Belted Kingfisher-0 (5)(new season record)
Red-naped Sapsucker-0 (2)
Downy Woodpecker-1 (4)
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker-0 (5)
Western Wood-pewee-0 (16)
Willow Flycatcher-0 (121)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1)(1st banding record!!!)
Least Flycatcher-0 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher-0 (7)
Gray Flycatcher-0 (1) (9th banding record)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-0 (3)(new season high)
Eastern Kingbird-0 (1)
Cassin’s Vireo-0 (3)
Warbling Vireo-0 (7)
Red-eyed Vireo-0 (3)
Black-capped Chickadee-0 (14)
Bewick’s Wren-0 (8)(new season high)
House Wren-0 (3)
Marsh Wren-4 (33)
Golden-crowned Kinglet-0 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-9 (11)
Veery-0 (32)
Swainson’s Thrush-0 (14)
American Robin-2 (7)
Gray Catbird-2 (196)
Cedar Waxwing-0 (33)
Orange-crowned Warbler-40 (153)
Tennessee Warbler-0 (3)
Nashville Warbler-0 (2)
Yellow Warbler-0 (129)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-50 (70)
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler-24 (33)
Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-29 (54)
Northern Waterthrush-0 (19)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-0 (12)
Common Yellowthroat-44 (243)
Wilson’s Warbler-3 (41)
Yellow-breasted Chat-0 (8)(new season high)
Western Tanager-0 (11)
Spotted Towhee-1 (14)
Chipping Sparrow-1 (3)
Savannah Sparrow-0 (5)
Fox Sparrow-0 (1)
Song Sparrow-28 (200)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-28 (146)
Swamp Sparrow-1 (1)
(Gambel’s) White-crowned Sparrow-6 (29)
Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco-1 (1)
Black-headed Grosbeak-0 (7)
Lazuli Bunting-0 (7)
Red-winged Blackbird-0 (1)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Cassin’s Finch-0 (3)(5th-7th banding records; new season high))
American Goldfinch-1 (18)

Total-279 (1759) birds of 18 (57) species banded, 2 (10) birds of 1 species netted, plus 44 (418) recaptures of 12 (28) species.

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Fall colours along the census trail following the dyke and overlooking the channel.

Week 7, 2016: Signs of fall and the first owls

September 20, 2016

Week 7 of the banding season (Sept. 12-18) was once again an above average week. We banded 207 birds of 21 species, recaptured 49 birds of 11 species and netted 1 additional bird of 1 species. The numbers of birds banded have been good but species diversity is consistently dropping as many species have already departed; a sure sign of fall! The top species for the week were Yellow-rumped Warbler (45), Orange-crowned Warbler (36), Common Yellowthroat (31) and Lincoln’s Sparrow (26)  – typical mid to late season migrants. Additionally, Common Yellowthroat has now passed Gray Catbird as the most abundant species of the season. Of the 21 species banded this week, five species either tied or set new record highs for the week and a further 10 species were banded in above average numbers for the week. The primary banding highlight for the week was a rather late Veery.

The two most abundant species of the week: Yellow-rumped Warbler (left) and Orange-crowned Warbler (right). In central BC we get both ‘Audubon’s’ and ‘Myrtle’ subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler and many individuals, like the one pictured, show characteristics of both, suggesting that the two hybridize in this region.

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Volunteer and interpreter, Laurel MacDonald, scribing while Doug Brown, the Bander-in-Charge, bands a Savannah Sparrow (Photo: David Wilde).

No new species of songbirds were banded this week. However, Northern Saw-whet Owl banding started up on Sept. 15 which yielded two new species. A brilliant full moon on opening night limited saw-whet activity as they tend to avoid migrating during times when they are more susceptible to predation by larger owls. The 2nd night was shortened by rain and so again we caught nothing but on the third night we caught 2 saw-whets, a hatch year male and a banded female that we first caught in 2014 as a hatch year. Then the last night of the week provided for a very pleasant surprise – a Long-eared Owl! This owl was actually a recapture that was originally banded at VLBO in 2014 and is only the third capture of this species at the station.

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Long-eared Owl on the banding table getting its measurements taken (Photo: David Wilde).

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We use two stacked mist nets for saw-whets at VLBO. Here they are being set up.

Other major highlights for the week came from the daily observations as we added 2 new species to the station list: Chestnut-sided Warbler and Forster’s Tern, both being seen on Sept. 13th. There was only one previous record for Chestnut-sided Warbler but it was seen outside normal station hours.

Next week will be a busy one with the interpretive school programs starting up again for the second year. This promises to be an exciting time for everyone involved. As well, we will be holding an Open House for the public on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 9 am to noon! The station will be equipped with learning materials and interpreters during that time and visitors can learn about the details of bird banding, migration and participate in a guided walk.

Special thanks to volunteer David Wilde who spent the entire week at VLBO! During this time he helped out much with fall migration and owl banding and preparing for the school program and he absorbed a great deal of information about banding and birds in general. He also took lots of photos so that we have few more to share this week.

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Banding assistant, Matthias Bieber, determining the sex of a Cedar Waxwing (Photo: David Wilde).

Here are the banding records for the week and the season ( ).

California Quail-1 netted (8 netted)
Cooper’s Hawk-0 (1)(9th banding record)
Virginia Rail-0 (1)
Northern Saw-whet Owl-1 (1)
Rufous Hummingbird-0 (2)
Calliope Hummingbird -0 (3)(7th-9th banding records, new season high)
Belted Kingfisher-0 (5)(new season record)
Red-naped Sapsucker-0 (2)
Downy Woodpecker-0 (3)
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker-0 (5)
Western Wood-pewee-0 (16)
Willow Flycatcher-0 (121)
Alder Flycatcher-0 (1)(1st banding record!!!)
Least Flycatcher-0 (1)
Dusky Flycatcher-0 (7)
Gray Flycatcher-0 (1) (9th banding record)
Pacific-slope Flycatcher-0 (3)(new season high)
Eastern Kingbird-0 (1)
Cassin’s Vireo-0 (3)
Warbling Vireo-1 (7)
Red-eyed Vireo-0 (3)
Black-capped Chickadee-2 (14)
Bewick’s Wren-0 (8)(new season high)
House Wren-0 (3)
Marsh Wren-2 (29)
Golden-crowned Kinglet-0 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1 (2)
Veery-1 (32)
Swainson’s Thrush-1 (14)
American Robin-1 (5)
Gray Catbird-6 (194)
Cedar Waxwing-9 (33)
Orange-crowned Warbler-36 (113)
Tennessee Warbler-0 (3)
Nashville Warbler-0 (2)
Yellow Warbler-2 (129)
Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s) Warbler-15 (20)

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler-8 (9)

Yellow-rumped (unidentified) Warbler-22 (25)
Northern Waterthrush-0 (19)
MacGillivray’s Warbler-0 (12)
Common Yellowthroat-31 (199)
Wilson’s Warbler-4 (38)
Yellow-breasted Chat-0 (8)(new season high)
Western Tanager-0 (11)
Spotted Towhee-5 (13)
Chipping Sparrow-1 (2)
Savannah Sparrow-2 (5)

Fox Sparrow-0 (1)

Song Sparrow-18 (172)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-26 (118)

(Gambel’s) White-crowned Sparrow-12 (23)

Black-headed Grosbeak-0 (7)
Lazuli Bunting-0 (7)
Red-winged Blackbird-0 (1)
Bullock’s Oriole-0 (1)
Cassin’s Finch-0 (3)(5th-7th banding records; new season high))
American Goldfinch-0 (17)

Total-207 (1480) birds of 21 (55) species banded, 1 (8) birds of 1 species netted, plus 49 (373) recaptures of 11 (25) species

A freshly banded hatch year female Wilson’s Warbler (top left; photo: David Wilde); after-hatch year Bewick’s Wren (top right); preparing a band for a Gray Catbird (bottom; photo: David Wilde).

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Doug Brown reading the band number of a recaptured Yellow-breasted Chat.