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Week 4, 2019: Back to Normal

August 29, 2019

The busy start to our season fizzled out this week as numbers returned to more normal values. We banded 178 birds of 30 species which is still above the station average of 130banded and 24 species for Week 4. We also recaptured 64 birds of 14 species. Late August is typically a slow time for migration as many of the early migrants have already departed but some of the later season species are still to come.

The highlight of the week was a single Brewer’s Sparrow which is a new species for the station, pushing the station species total to 113! It was followed by a lone Clay-colored Sparrow the next day, which is also not commonly banded (it’s only the 14th record). Other interesting birds banded include our 3rd Gray Flycatcher and 4th Sora of the season, which both occurred on the same day as the Brewer’s Sparrow, making that a very exciting day indeed! We also banded a Hairy Woodpecker, (only the 8th record), 2 late Rufous Hummingbirds, 3 Western Tanager, and a Pacific-slope Flycatcher.

This week, Willow Flycatcher was the most banded species with 28 which pushed the season total past the record of 128 set last year! Following closely is Gray Catbird (27), Orange-crowned Warbler (19), and Common Yellowthroat (16). Yellow Warblers are dwindling with also 16 banded this week but we passed 300 for the season, and Eastern Kingbirds have now departed with only 1 banded early in the week. Interestingly sparrows had good showings this week, especially Spotted Towhee which also surpassed the previous record of 18 in one season. Orange-crowned Warblers continue to move through early, while Wilson’s Warblers were almost absent this week after being above average during the first three weeks. We recaptured at least two older birds this week – a breeding Willow Flycatcher banded as a HY in 2014, making it 5 years old, and Yellow Warbler that is at least 5 years old!

Another highlight was a Blackpoll Warbler observed during census! This species which breeds in central BC and usually migrates east of the Rockies has not been detected at VLBO since 2004. We enjoyed a visit from the Central Okanagan Naturalists as well as a few other family groups.

Below are the banding totals:

Week 4 Totals DAY
Species Totals 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Willow Flycatcher 28 4 4 5 3 5 3 4
Gray Catbird 27 8 4 2 3 5 4 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 19 1 1 4 3 2 6 2
Common Yellowthroat 16 2 1 1 4 6 2
Yellow Warbler 16 3 4 4 2 1 2
Song Sparrow 15 1 4 1 1 1 2 5
Lincoln’s Sparrow 10 2 1 1 1 2 1 2
Spotted Towhee 6 1 4 1
Swainson’s Thrush 6 3 1 1 1
Audubon’s Warbler 4 1 2 1
American Goldfinch 3 2 1
Western Tanager 3 1 1 1
Wilson’s Warbler 3 1 1 1
Black-capped Chickadee 2 1 1
Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrow 2 1 1
Rufous Hummingbird 2 2
Savannah Sparrow 2 1 1
Clay-colored Sparrow 1 1
Downy Woodpecker 1 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1 1
Eastern Kingbird 1 1
Gray Flycatcher 1 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1 1
House Wren 1 1
Marsh Wren 1 1
Nashville Warbler 1 1
Northern Waterthrush 1 1
Pacific-Slope Flycatcher 1 1
Sora 1 1
Western Wood-Pewee 1 1
Brewer’s Sparrow 1 1
Total 178 33 28 23 16 26 28 24
Species 31 18 11 12 7 14 11 13

 

The recapture totals are as follows:

Week 4 Totals Day
SPECIES Totals 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Orange-crowned Warbler 12 3 2 1 1 4 1
Common Yellowthroat 10 2 3 2 2 1
Gray Catbird 10 1 1 2 2 2 1 1
Song Sparrow 9 2 1 1 5
Black-capped Chickadee 5 1 2 1 1
Willow Flycatcher 5 2 1 2
American Goldfinch 4 1 1 1 1
Red-eyed Vireo 2 2
Yellow Warbler 2 1 1
Bewick’s Wren 1 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 1 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1 1
Veery 1 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1 1
Totals 64 9 9 11 9 6 8 12
Species 14 5 7 7 6 5 4 7

 

Week 3, 2019: Diversity and Numbers

August 22, 2019

Week 3 of our migration monitoring season is already over and again it was a busy one, relative to past seasons. While slower than the first two weeks of this season, we still set a new record for Week 3 with 305 birds banded, well above the average of 164. The week started with three very productive days of 50-60 birds banded but activity slowed after that to 30-some birds per day. The second half of August is typically a slower time so this is to be expected. This trend will likely continue into next week, especially if the stagnant, clear weather persists. Species diversity remained high with 38 species banded this week which is also a new high, far above the average of 25.6. We recaptured 107 birds of 17 species which is very consistent with the first two weeks.

The most exciting birds of the week were two Virginia Rails, the first a relatively young juvenile which was only about half the size of the second, an adult! Other highlights were three juvenile Red-eyed Vireos and one ASY recap banded last year all in the same day, a Bullock’s Oriole, a new species for the season, as well as our third Bewick’s Wren of the season, and another Yellow-breasted Chat. Other new species added this week include Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Warbling Vireo.

Not surprisingly, Yellow Warbler was once again our top species with 65 more banded. Gray Catbird (40), Willow Flycatcher (30), and Song Sparrow (25) rounded out the top four. Orange-crowned Warbler, American Goldfinch, Common Yellowthroat, Spotted Towhee and Wilson’s Warblers were also banded in above average numbers while Cedar Waxwing numbers really dropped. Northern Waterthrush continue to lag below average.

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This week we beat the previous record for most American Goldfinch banded in one season (112 in 2015) with the total currently standing at 131! That adds to Yellow Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Kingbird, Least Flycatcher, and House Finch which we’ve already banded in record high numbers!

Several visitors dropped by the station this week, including members of the South Okanagan Naturalist Club on a birding outing led by Alex Bodden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are the banding totals:

Week 3 Totals DAY
SPECIES Totals 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Yellow Warbler 65 15 9 18 5 7 4 7
Gray Catbird 40 10 4 7 6 1 3 9
Willow Flycatcher 30 6 4 4 5 3 5 3
Song Sparrow 25 6 2 3 3 6 4 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 24 4 1 6 1 5 6 1
American Goldfinch 21 1 7 7 3 1 2
Common Yellowthroat 21 5 5 2 1 2 1 5
Spotted Towhee 8 1 4 2 1
Cedar Waxwing 7 4 2 1
Wilson’s Warbler 6 2 3 1
Western Wood-pewee 4 2 1 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 4 1 2 1
Veery 4 1 2 1
Eastern Kingbird 3 1 1 1
Swainson’s Thrush 3 1 1 1
Northern Waterthrush 3 1 2
Least Flycatcher 3 1 1 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3 3
Lincoln’s Sparrow 3 2 1
Warbling Vireo 3 1 1 1
Marsh Wren 2 1 1
Dusky Flycatcher 2 1 1
Audubon’s Warbler 2 1 1
House Finch 2 1 1
Western Tanager 2 1 1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher 2 1 1
Virginia Rail 2 1 1
Nashville Warbler 1 1
Yellow-breasted Chat 1 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1 1
Black-headed Grosbeak 1 1
Lazuli Bunting 1 1
Bewick’s Wren 1 1
Red-shafted Flicker 1 1
Rufous Hummingbird 1 1
Savannah Sparrow 1 1
Bullock’s Oriole 1 1
Totals 305 58 50 60 39 35 32 31

 

 

The recapture totals are as follows:

Week 3 Totals Day
SPECIES Totals 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Song Sparrow 25 5 2 1 5 4 5 3
Gray Catbird 14 2 2 1 2 2 3 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 13 1 1 2 1 4 4
Common Yellowthroat 12 4 2 2 4
Yellow Warbler 10 2 3 2 1 1 1
Veery 7 2 2 3
Black-capped Chickadee 6 1 1 1 2 1
American Goldfinch 4 2 1 1
Yellow-breasted Chat 4 1 1 1 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 3 1 1 1
Least Flycatcher 2 1 1
Willow Flycatcher 2 1 1
Bewick’s Wren 1 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1 1
Spotted Towhee 1 1
Swainson’s Thrush 1 1
Wilson’s Warbler 1 1
Total 107 15 12 14 13 15 22 16

 

Week 2, 2019: The record season continues on

August 16, 2019

This year’s surprising surge of birds continued through Week 2 with more unprecedented numbers of birds being banded.  This week we banded 459 birds of 34 species which is down slightly from week 1, as it always is, but still is almost triple the station average and completely surpasses the previous high of  260. We averaged almost 66 birds per day with the busiest day of the week coming Sunday, Aug. 11, with 107 birds banded, thanks to 57 Yellow Warblers passing through the nets! Once again, new records for number of birds banded were set for every day but one this week. We also recaptured 105 birds of 21 species.

We had several very exciting captures this week, the top two of which were a Western Kingbird – only the 2nd ever banded at VLBO with the only other record in 2001, and a Steller’s Jay – the 4th record! Other interesting captures included 2 Sora, 3 Yellow-breasted Chat (several of which were recaptured during the week), 4 Western Tanager, 2 Lazuli Bunting, and one Red-eyed Vireo, the last three of which don’t often find their way into our nets despite regularly occurring in the South Okanagan.

Yellow Warbler once again topped the charts with a whopping 128 banded this week – even more than the first week. This means we smashed the record for most Yellow Warblers banded in one season of 148, almost in just this week alone! Willow Flycatcher, Cedar Waxing, Gray Catbird and American Goldfinch were also among the top of the list, in that order. In addition to all of the aforementioned species besides Gray Catbird, other species with unusually high numbers this week were Wilson’s Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Orange-crowned Warbler, Western Wood-Pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Dusky Flycatcher, Swainson’s Thrush and Spotted Towhee. The only species with noticeably lower than average numbers for the week are Veery and Northern Waterthrush. It would appear that several species have indeed begun migration relatively early this year, in particular, most warblers and flycatchers.

 

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Warm and sunny conditions were prevalent this week aside from some showers on the weekend.

 

 

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Our season totals after Week 2.

Below are the banding totals:

Week 2 Totals  

DAY

SPECIES

Totals

8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Yellow Warbler 128 14 14 8 57 13 9 13
Willow Flycatcher 57 5 6 8 13 5 12 8
Cedar Waxwing 52 9 12 6 1 3 6 15
Gray Catbird 40 11 8 3 3 5 6 4
American Goldfinch 38 6 14 1 11 1 5  
Common Yellowthroat 22 5 5 1 1 6 2 2
Song Sparrow 20 2 2 3 1 2 4 6
Wilson’s Warbler 18   1 1 7 2 2 5
Western Wood-Pewee 8   2 2 1 2 1  
Orange-crowned Warbler 7 1 1 1 2 1   1
Northern Waterthrush 7     1 1 3 2  
Eastern Kingbird 6 2     1 1 2  
Marsh Wren 6 1 2       1 2
Spotted Towhee 6 1 1     2 1 1
Dusky Flycatcher 5   1   2   1 1
Black-capped Chickadee 4   1   2   1  
Swainson’s Thrush 4   1   1 1 1  
Western Tanager 4   1 1     2  
House Wren 3   1       1 1
Nashville Warbler 3   1       1 1
Yellow-breasted Chat 3       1     2
Sora 2   1     1    
Veery 2 1           1
Audubon’s Warbler 2 2            
MacGillivray’s Warbler 2       1     1
Lazuli Bunting 2           1 1
Rufous Hummingbird 1             1
Calliope Hummingbird 1   1          
Downy Woodpecker 1           1  
Red-shafted Flicker 1 1            
Western Kingbird 1       1      
Red-eyed Vireo 1             1
Steller’s Jay 1   1          
House Finch 1           1  
Totals 459 61 77 36 107 48 63 67

 

 

The recapture totals are as follows:

Week 2 Totals  

Day

SPECIES Totals 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Common Yellowthroat 20 5 5 3 1 3 1 2
Song Sparrow 17 3 3 3 2 2 3 1
Yellow Warbler 15 6 1 1 4 1   2
Willow Flycatcher 10 1 1 2 1 3 1 1
American Goldfinch 10 2 2   2 2 2  
Gray Catbird 7 1 3 1   1   1
Orange-crowned Warbler 6   1   1 2   2
Black-capped Chickadee 4 2     1   1  
Yellow-breasted Chat 3     1   2    
Wilson’s Warbler 2     1 1      
Downy Woodpecker 1   1          
Dusky Flycatcher 1 1            
Eastern Kingbird 1   1          
Bewick’s Wren 1   1          
Marsh Wren 1   1          
Veery 1 1            
Swainson’s Thrush 1         1    
Cedar Waxwing 1   1          
Nashville Warbler 1       1      
Northern Waterthrush 1             1
Spotted Towhee 1             1
Total 105 22 21 12 14 17 8 11

 

Week 1, 2019: A week to remember!

August 7, 2019

The 2019 fall migration monitoring season is underway at Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory and we had a crazy record-breaking first week! We banded 596 birds and recaptured 110 for a total of 706 captures, which are astonishing numbers compared to typical seasons at VLBO. We also had several unbanded birds this week which would have pushed the banded total over 600. The 18-year average for the first week is 208 birds; though the trend has been increasing especially in the last five years. Even so, the previous high was 383 birds (last year) which pales in comparison. It’s also actually the second busiest week in the station’s history after a very busy peak migration week in 2006.

IMG_20190801_072043

One of the busy net runs of the week!

On opening day we banded 122 birds and equaled that total on day 2.  It seemed like birds were literally falling off the trees and that continued through the rest of the week with well above average numbers every day. In fact, every day but one set a new record high for that respective day. The number of recaptures was also well above average as is to be expected with so many birds banded.

 

The species total for this week was 42, which is also incredible considering the previous high is 33 species and the station average about 26. This high total is partially due to many migrants showing up early that are not always banded during the first week, including Savannah Sparrow, Least Flycatcher, House Wren, Chipping Sparrow, Wilson’s Warbler and Audubon’s Warbler, and several less commonly banded species including Tennessee Warbler (the 16th and 17th records), Gray Flycatcher (11th and 12th records), Belted Kingfisher, Sora, Red-winged Blackbird, and House Finch (6th-9th records). These were among the many highlights of the week as were three Yellow-breasted Chats, two Bewick’s Wren, and three species of hummingbirds.

Many species had high totals but Yellow Warbler (96), Cedar Waxwing (91), American Goldfinch (72) and Common Yellowthroat (53) were banded in ridiculous record high numbers – all of them about four times the average for week 1. Gray Catbird (60) and Willow Flycatcher (41) also had good numbers but fairly typical for the last few years. Other notable numbers include Orange-crowned Warbler (19) which average only 3 for week 1, Eastern Kingbird, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush, and Spotted Towhee. No species were noticeably below average and the only species that average at least 1 during week 1 but weren’t banded are Bullock’s Oriole and Pine Siskin.

IMG_20190803_103801

Banders Anna Skurikhina and Matthias Bieber with a pair of juvenile Belted Kingfishers netted together.

This season we welcome new banding assistant Anna Skurikhina who is a keen new birder a quickly becoming an expert extractor.

This week saw some of the hottest weather so far this summer as clear sunny skies dominated. However, the beautiful weather was marred at end of the week by the Eagle Bluff fire which started Sunday night and burned dangerously close in the distance. Luckily the smoke moved mostly to the south, away from the station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_20190801_133708

Sunny clear skies at VLBO

IMG_20190806_080014

The Eagle Bluff Fire burns in the distance.

Several of the species in high numbers are local breeders but some are also early migrants. It will be very interesting to see if these numbers continue through the season or if migration is happening earlier than normal and will peter out more quickly.

Below are the banding totals:

Week 1 Totals
Species Total Aug 1 Aug 2 Aug 3 Aug 4 Aug 5 Aug 6 Aug 7
Yellow Warbler 96 9 19 12 10 11 13 22
Cedar Waxwing 91 5 26 11 5 23 8 13
American Goldfinch 72 21 15 15 5 8 7 1
Gray Catbird 60 22 12 1 4 9 5 7
Common Yellowthroat 53 13 10 7 1 14 7 1
Willow Flycatcher 41 11 11 4 2 5 6 2
Song Sparrow 30 4 5 8 9 2 1 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 19 7 4 1 3 2 2
Eastern Kingbird 12 3 1 2 2 3 1
Swainson’s Thrush 12 3 2 1 2 2 1 1
Black-capped Vireo 10 3 1 1 4 1
Western Wood-Pewee 8 3 1 1 1 1 1
Marsh Wren 6 2 1 2 1
Veery 6 3 1 1 1
MacGillivray’s Warbler 6 1 2 3
American Robin 5 1 1 1 2
Audubon’s Warbler 5 1 1 1 1 1
Red-winged Blackbird 5 2 2 1
Least Flycatcher 4 2 2
Nashville Warbler 4 1 2 1
Northern Waterthrush 4 1 1 1 1
Wilson’s Warbler 4 1 1 1 1
Spotted Towhee 4 3 1
Black-headed Grosbeak 4 1 2 1
House Finch 4 2 1 1
Calliope Hummingbird 3 2 1
Dusky Flycatcher 3 1 2
Yellow-breasted Chat 3 2 1
Black-chinned Hummingbird 2 1 1
Belted Kingfisher 2 2
Downy Woodpecker 2 2
Gray Flycatcher 2 2
Bewick’s Wren 2 1 1
House Wren 2 1 1
Tennessee Warbler 2 2
Chipping Sparrow 2 2
Sora 1 1
Rufous Hummingbird 1 1
Red-shafted Flicker 1 1
Western Tanager 1 1
Savannah Sparrow 1 1
Lazuli Bunting 1 1
Total 596 122 122 80 58 89 69 56

The recapture totals are as follows:

Species Total Aug 1 Aug 2 Aug 3 Aug 4 Aug 5 Aug 6 Aug 7
Willow Flycatcher 22 4 7 4 3 3 1
Common Yellowthroat 17 1 4 1 5 3 3
Gray Catbird 16 2 4 2 1 2 4 1
Song Sparrow 16 1 1 1 5 3 3 2
Yellow Warbler 11 1 4 2 1 3
American Goldfinch 6 1 2 1 2
Black-capped Chickadee 5 1 1 1 1 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 4 1 1 2
Veery 3 1 1 1
Downy Woodpecker 2 1 1
Swainson’s Thrush 2 1 1
Cedar Waxwing 2 1 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1 1
Eastern Kingbird 1 1
Spotted Towhee 1 1
Black-headed Grosbeak 1 1
Totals 110 11 19 15 14 17 20 14

 

Looking for Volunteers for 2019 Season

August 1, 2019

Hi everyone!

August is here and Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory (VLBO) is once again ready for fall migration monitoring to begin! To refresh your memories, we will be banding every morning from August 1st to October 15th, starting half an hour before sunrise and ending six hours after that. I’ll be the Bander-in-Charge again this year and the Assistant Bander will be Anna Skurikhina, who graduated from TRU last year and has various wildlife experience in the Okanagan. She is very keen and will add much enthusiasm to the station!

We are using SignUp too coordinate volunteer shifts again so click HERE to sign up! For those of you who are new to the station, please read on to learn more about the station activities, location and directions and how to sign up for shifts!

Location:

VLBO is located approximately 4km south of the town of Okanagan Falls, on the west side of Highway 97. Look for a small pull-off with a fence and several signs, and a wide path that leads down the slope into the trees. There is room for several vehicles to park here. If you come to the “Vaseux Wildlife Centre”, you’ve gone too far. We are almost exactly 1 km north of there. If you are using Google to navigate, searching “Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory will take you to the correct location.

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Volunteers:

Please use our SignUp site if you want to volunteer in the banding lab or conduct the morning census, or even helping to get the station set-up. No registration is required. If you cannot navigate the online sign-up, then email us and let us help with that process: vlbovolunteer@gmail.com. See at the bottom of this email for step-by-step instructions. There are multiple spots for banding assistants and one spot for census each day. Click on the spots to read a more detailed description about each and see what you should arrive. Each volunteer banding session is approximately 6 hours but may end earlier depending on how busy the station is.

If you are signed up for a Spot but can no longer make it, please cancel your SignUp shift. If it’s last minute, please let us know by email at vlbovolunteer@gmail.com or message us on Facebook.

Banding protocols:

If you are new to bird banding, you’re in for an exciting experience! There several different tasks which volunteers can help with including scribing (recording data), extracting birds from mist nets, banding, and census. Apart from scribing, these tasks require skill and training which we are happy to provide. We just ask that you remain patient and recognize that you cannot learn these skills in a day or two.

A few rules of etiquette to note around the station are:

  • Please do not touch any birds in the nets unless you are extracting and given authorization to do so by the BiC.
  • During banding, keep unnecessary conversation to a minimum and speak in quiet voices. Try not to make any loud noises as this can add stress to the birds.
  • No pets at the station.
  • Bears frequent the area so do not leave any food unattended outdoors.

Census: Each day, as part of our regular migration monitoring, we conduct a formal census survey which involves walking a prescribed route starting an hour after sunrise, and takes about 80 mins. This is probably one of the tasks we need the most help with because it can be challenging for the banders to do census when banding is busy. For those interested, a successful census taker should be familiar with at least 75% of the species normally encountered at the station by sight and sound. If you are interested but unsure of your skill level, get in touch with me and we can figure it out.

A list of birds found at VLBO and the frequencies at which they occur can be found here: https://ebird.org/canada/barchart?byr=1900&eyr=2011&bmo=1&emo=12&r=L285843

Also, new prospective banders should take a look at the North American Bird Bander’s Study Guide: http://www.nabanding.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/STUDYGUIDE1.pdf

Check out our website for more information about the station, blog posts from past seasons and our protocol. I’ve also attached last year’s Banding Report, if you’re interested in seeing what a typical season of banding at VLBO looks like: https://vlbo.wordpress.com/

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 in advance at vlbovolunteer@gmail.com to let us know you are planning to be at the station.  You can also message us through our Facebook page @vaseuxlakebirds. 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.

Follow us!

Just a reminder that we have a number of ways for you to stay connected: Facebook @vaseuxlakebirdsTwitter @vaseuxlakebirds, and again we have the official link for signing up for volunteering at SignUp with tasks starting as soon as July 25th, (https://signup.com/go/HVsVTWS) or email (vlbovolunteer@gmail.com).

If you no longer want to be on our email list

Your name is on this list because you have either volunteered in the past, or indicated that you wanted to be kept up to date for the next banding season at VLBO would like to email you each year as the banding season approaches.  This email is to see if you would like to be on our information mail outs for the coming year. Please let me know if you would like to be removed from our list. Apologies if you are included here in error.  Our board are a group of busy volunteers and will do our best to keep this list up to date as per your requests.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Hope to see you out there!

 

Matthias Bieber

Bander-in-Charge

_____________________________________________

More information on how to use SignUp.

We’re using SignUp.com to organize our upcoming SignUps.

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our SignUp on SignUp.comhttp://signup.com/go/gJLPxnj

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 SignUp.com.

Note: SignUp.com 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 vlbovolunteer@gmail.com.

May 30, 2019

ASSISTANT BIRD BANDER: VASEUX LAKE BIRD OBSERVATORY

Employer

Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance

Site

Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory

Location

Okanagan Falls, BC, Canada

Please Apply Before

June 15, 2019

Dates

July 30 –  16 October 2019

Description:

The Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance seeks applications for one experienced passerine bander to work on contract as Assistant Bander at the Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory, from July 30 to October 16, 2019. The successful applicant will be responsible for assisting in the operation of the Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory (VLBO). VLBO is a moderate-volume banding station running continuously since 2000. The station is located on the west side of Hwy. 97, 1 km north of Vaseux Lake and 4 km south of Okanagan Falls, BC. The station is located on land owned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (Vaseux Bighorn National Wildlife Area) and Provincial Crown land.  Migrants are sampled through banding (with 14 mist nets), a daily census, and general observations.  Since banding concludes by noon, assistant bander will have ample free time. Very low cost accommodation is available nearby with student biologists.

The contract is $420/week for 11.5 weeks, with an additional $200 stipend for assisting with 10 school programs during banding hours. Total contract is $5030.The Assistant bander is expected to work 30-hours per week (5 days a week for 6 hr/day). VLBO has an exciting and active banding program and hosts visitors including school programs, students, and members of the public. The successful applicant will assist in these banding demonstrations and other duties, such as clearing net lanes and maintaining equipment, as assigned. We recommend having your own vehicle. There is the opportunity to participate in a voluntary Saw-whet Owl Banding initiative, contingent upon sufficient volunteers.

Position requirements:

Must be proficient in the safe extraction of birds from nets; ideally will have extracted 750 birds.
Applicant has at least one season’s experience of high volume fall migration.
Able to assist in data entry and proofing.
Willing to work outdoors in inclement weather with prompt arrival for work each day.
Ability to identify local birds by ear for daily census.
Willing to work with and train volunteers.
Interested in communicating with the public and school groups on banding and migration monitoring.

Preferred Skills:

Applicant can identify, age and sex commonly occurring passerines.
Applicant has North American Banding Council certification.

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information, with three professional references to smansiere@okanagan.bc.ca  who you can direct any questions towards.  Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled, but please continue to submit resumes even if you are concerned you missed the cutoff. See the observatory website https://vlbo.wordpress.com/about/ and Facebook page @vaseuxlakebirds for more information.

2018 Season Banding Summary

October 23, 2018

The 2018 fall migration monitoring season is complete and it is once again time to examine the data and take a look at the numbers. In terms of productivity and diversity this season was VLBO’s second best ever with 2154 birds banded of 66 species and 609 recaptures of 32 species. These totals are each the second highest recorded, following 2006 for number of birds banded and recaptured, and 2012 for species banded; although, considering we did not conduct owl banding this year, our species total is tied for the highest. Banding productivity followed the typical pattern through the season with high numbers at the beginning of August followed by a lull in late August and early September before migration really picked up in mid-September. However, the second half of August was still relatively busy which could be attributed to a productive breeding season that continued quite late with many birds have second or perhaps even third broods in some cases. After the peak of migration during September, activity slowed down more abruptly at the end than usual.

birds banded by day 2018

It was a very productive year for birds breeding at the station overall with many species having record or close to record totals. Yellow Warbler, Willow Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo and Eastern Kingbird all set new season highs, while Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, and American Goldfinch also had very high totals. This contributed to August being the most productive ever with 1086 birds banded. September was also a good month with numbers being well above average for many migrants, making it the third most productive September on record with 917 banded. Orange-crowned Warblers moved through in high numbers this year, ending with the second highest total on record, as did Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Wilson’s Warblers set a new season record, and most of our other abundant migrants were above or close to average. Then, in contrast with the rest of the season, activity really slowed in October. We banded only 151 birds banded during the month, which is the second lowest ever in the 13 years that the season has been extended into October. While most of the later migrants were still close to the 18-year average in number, some occurred in lower numbers than in recent years (ie., The last 10 years), such as White-crowned Sparrow, ‘Oregon’ Junco, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and Marsh Wren. Interestingly, many of these are sparrows. Not banding Northern Saw-whet owls this year also contributed to a lower total for October.

running total graph

We’ll be posting a season summary of our estimated totals which include daily observation and census once the data entry is complete so check back soon for more updates!

Below are the banding and recapture totals:

SPECIES BANDED
Orange-crowned Warbler 354
Gray Catbird 217
Common Yellowthroat 174
Song Sparrow 168
Yellow Warbler 150
Lincoln’s Sparrow 139
Willow Flycatcher 128
Cedar Waxwing 124
‘Audubon’s’ Yellow-rumped Warbler 88
American Goldfinch 87
Wilson’s Warbler 76
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 68
Northern Waterthrush 34
Marsh Wren 30
Warbling Vireo 23
‘Gambel’s’ White-crowned Sparrow 23
Veery 22
MacGillivray’s Warbler 19
Dusky Flycatcher 15
Black-capped Chickadee 15
Oregon’ Dark-eyed Junco 15
Eastern Kingbird 14
Swainson’s Thrush 14
‘Unidentified’ Yellow-rumped Warbler 13
American Robin 12
‘Myrtle’ Yellow-rumped Warbler 11
Spotted Towhee 10
Pine Siskin 9
Western Wood-Pewee 7
Black-headed Grosbeak 7
Nashville Warbler 5
Savannah Sparrow 5
Mallard 4
Black-chinned Hummingbird 4
Downy Woodpecker 4
Red-shafted’ Flicker 4
House Wren 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
Calliope Hummingbird 3
Least Flycatcher 3
Bewick’s Wren 3
Pacific Wren 3
American Redstart 3
Yellow-breasted Chat 3
Western Tanager 3
Swamp Sparrow 3
Virginia Rail 2
Rufous Hummingbird 2
Pacific Slope Flycatcher 2
Cassin’s Vireo 2
White-throated Sparrow 2
Lazuli Bunting 2
Bullock’s Oriole 2
House Sparrow 2
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Sora 1
Wilson’s Snipe 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher 1
Gray Flycatcher 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Barn Swallow 1
Tennessee Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 1
Townsend’s Warbler 1
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
‘Unidentified’ Dark-eyed Junco 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1

Total: 2154 banded of 66 species

 

SPECIES RECAPS
Song Sparrow 157
Orange-crowned Warbler 80
Gray Catbird 65
Willow Flycatcher 49
Common Yellowthroat 49
Lincoln’s Sparrow 40
Black-capped Chickadee 36
Yellow Warbler 26
Northern Waterthrush 18
Wilson’s Warbler 13
Veery 11
Cedar Waxwing 11
American Goldfinch 9
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 8
Marsh Wren 6
Warbling Vireo 4
Bewick’s Wren 4
‘Gambel’s’ White-crowned Sparrow 4
Swainson’s Thrush 3
MacGillivray’s Warbler 3
Oregon Junco 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Virginia Rail 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Western Wood-Pewee 1
Cassin’s Vireo 1
American Robin 1
Tennessee Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 1
‘Myrtle’ Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Black-headed Grosbeak 1

Total recaptured: 609 of 32 species