We’ve finished two out of six banding periods and the MAPS project in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is running right on schedule. Right now we are in what is called the “Adult Super Period”, during which we catch more adults than juveniles. We still have yet to catch a hatch year bird but we are catching adults showing breeding characteristics; sometimes carrying food/nest materials. This is to be expected at our altitude and latitude where we will probably not hit the “Juvenile Super Period” until mid July. There isn’t too much to report but there have been some minor changes in species composition (presence) at the sites. For example, Western Wood Pewees, Dusky Flycatchers and Vireos are singing consistently throughout the morning, compared to a few weeks ago when American Robins, Eastern White-Crowned Sparrows, Yellow Warblers and House Wrens were making the most noise. In addition, we are now catching Cedar Waxwings showing broods and cloacal protuberances.
MAPS is a continent wide effort to monitor birds during their breeding season. We tend to catch fewer birds than in migration study for three main reasons; (1) there are fewer birds passing through a given area; (2) the birds that are around have established territories thus fewer new birds are caught; and (3) we operate the stations only once every ten days to minimize stress on the breeders, incubators, new parents and juveniles who all have “more pressing” matters to attend to. That being said, it was a fairly slow week, our three sites only catching 73 birds, 20 species and banding 36 individuals. It will start to get much busier when the hatch year birds begin to fledge.
Our spring migration came to a close last week. The last 5 days at the station we continued to catch cedar waxwings, with very little fat, some migrating stragglers, like a red-eyed vireo, and a plethora of locally breeding birds.
Most of the breeding birds had, at the very least, began to sing all day. While all other species, such as American Robins, Yellow Warblers, Grey Catbirds and Least Flycatchers were showing brood patches.
The Pine Siskins that moved into the banding station in late May were accounting for a quarter of birds caught in the last week, we also kept catching the bank swallows that live in a colony on the North shore across the lake. Before the station opened a beaver took down a few trees near one of our nets exposing a couple of meters of the net near a small peninsula – the bank swallows swarm the area to catch flying insects and usually forget to avoid the net while chasing each other. We rarely caught less than three swallows at a time.
This year we caught 502 birds, banded 372 birds, 43 species and handled 46 species. A relatively slow spring as we opened late and had relatively poor weather including a few snow days in late May. We are now moving onto our summer MAPS projects throughout Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.
Her male counterpart is bright blue, notice her blue shoulder patches (lesser coverts) and the blue tint on her fresh outer primaries.
Both the male and female sit on the nest, protect their territory and feed the nestlings. Notice how large the beaks on these birds are. They effortlessly shuck seeds (and bite fingers)
We’ve been seeing these birds around the station for over a week and finally caught one yesterday. They are very soft in the spring and a joy to handle. These particular vireos have a very ‘clean’ face and a ‘warbling’ song.