Spring’s Cold Shoulder

Why not check out Meredith’s four minute video about songbird banding at the Delta Marsh Bird Observatory? It’s on YouTube at https://youtu.be/8iHghr0NQ-c

Well, Spring started out chilly! Most days during the first 2 weeks of May were too cold to open nets until later in the morning. Which resulted in very few birds caught!  Overall it’s been a very slow start to Spring. We have had great diversity of species though and a few re-traps, which is always exciting! We re-trapped a female Brown-headed Cowbird which was originally banded in 2018 as a “After Hatch Year” meaning she is either 4 years old or older!

Of course great habitat is not without it’s predators. We’ve had quite a few weasel sightings in the past month. Walter and Wendy, our usual Short-tailed Weasels paid us a visit, an American Mink, and a Striped Skunk. When we have predators hanging around our nets or in the area, we close nets in order to protect the birds. Bird safety is always our number one priority.

With everything happening in the world right now, it has been quite a different setup. We operate as a 2 person or single person station. Masks are worn to protect the birds and ourselves, we sanitize all of our tools, and of course we practice social distancing. If only the Weasels would participate.

Although, bird captures have been few, there’s still good birding happening at the Marsh. We’ve seen a Baltimore Oriole, Wilson’s Warbler, Hudsonian Godwits, Black Terns, American Bittern, Brown Thrasher, Blue Jay, and Swans galore!

This year we have a new Bander-in-Charge. It’s me! Meredith! I’m very excited to spend the Summer and Fall with the birds and looking forward to when we can welcome more volunteers safely. We have made the decision to open to the public but we are going to wait until July to have volunteers participate and learn. 

Hopefully, our Spring migration will pick up in the next few days and we can see some brightly colored birds. Clay-colored Sparrows and Swamp Sparrows are great but some color would be appreciated.

photo courtesy Dennis Swayze

This month we also had the pleasure of banding a male Peregrine Falcon on behalf of the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project before it was released at Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre.

It was a great experience! Thanks to Wildlife Haven for having us!

photo courtesy Dennis Swayze

See you all in July and thank you so much to our volunteers for understanding!

— Meredith Stoesz

Slow but Steady

This year’s Fall Banding season was slow but steady. We had a number of busy days followed by slower but consistent days. We think we missed a lot of the migrating birds during all those rainy days.

We didn’t beat any major records this year but we did band a couple of new species!

We were able to band our first Merlin! Merlins require a special band called a lock-on band. They’re able to remove regular blunt end bands! Fingers crossed we see it again next year! Our second new species this year was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and we caught 2 of them! We caught a female and a hatch year male.

There were a couple of birds that were pretty amazing re-traps. We caught a Yellow Warbler and a Common Yellowthroat that were both at least 6 years old! Not only that, we caught them in the very same nets we originally caught them in! Just goes to show that we have a pretty reliable breeding and stopover site at Oak Hammock Marsh.


Our final bird banded this year was a Harris’s Sparrow. Which brings us to a total of 1352 birds banded and 58 different species!

If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more, we have some workshops coming up throughout the Winter.

  • November 23, 2019: Learn to Band Birds Workshop: Ageing through Moult
  • March 7, 2020: Learn to Band Birds Workshop: Working with Pyle
  • April 25 & 26, 2020:  Learn to Band Birds Workshop: Banding Birds

For more information you can check out our website www.dmbo.ca

The Spring banding season starts May 1st, 2020.  See you then!

— Meredith Stoesz

Upcoming workshops

Want to learn more about bird banding?

DMBO will  be conducting  workshops over the coming months. For more details about the content of the workshops, please click the links below.

Ageing Through Moult November 23

Working with Pyle March 7

Banding Birds April 25 & 26

For more information or to register:
Contact Paula at 204-467-3243 or

All proceeds from the workshops go to the Delta Marsh Bird Observatory


Fall Season Starts with a bang!

Well the Fall season has started off with a BANG! We have already caught a new species for the station. Not only that, it was our 100th species! We finally got to experience the bite of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. It didn’t take long to realize that we don’t want to be bit by that bird again.  We caught not one, but two!  An adult female and a hatch year male.

Our next exciting catch was another biter. We caught a hatch year Cooper’s Hawk. We weren’t able to band this bird but it was a pleasure to see this creature up close and personal.

Just recently we caught a Merlin. We have caught them before but this one was special because we got to band it! In the past we have not banded Merlins because they require lock-on bands. Lucky for us, one of our volunteers had some experience with lock-ons and has now taught us how to put them on! The Merlin we caught was a hatch year female.


Other highlights include 2 Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Downy Woodpecker, House Wren, Ovenbird, and Purple Finch.

Overall the first month of banding has been exciting and the weather has mostly been agreeable. Warblers from up North have slowly started to move through the marsh and soon the variety will be excellent. For now we won’t rush migration and enjoy all of our Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and Swamp Sparrows!

Some of our visitors:


— Meredith Stoesz


Burrowing Owls and other projects…

Did you know that Delta Marsh Bird Observatory is involved in a few other banding projects in Manitoba!?

We work with The Manitoba Peregrine Recovery Project, The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Project and Tall Grass Prairie MAPS Banding near Tolstoi.

BUOW chick3 BUOW chicksA few weeks ago we got to take part in Peregrine Falcon Banding in Winnipeg. The young birds are banded to monitor their migration and to identify them in future.

We got to witness 3 young Peregrines be banded. It was LOUD. Each chick is given two bands, one is a colour band with an easily read number and letter on it and the second is a metal band with a 9-digit number on it.

Each bird was banded and then placed back in their nesting platform much to the parent’s relief.

We also did a day trip to visit one of the Burrowing Owl nesting sites. Not only were the owls cool but the birding was amazing! Southwest Manitoba never disappoints. We arrived at the site and were greeted by a Say’s Phoebe and then we heard both Sprague’s Pipit and Chestnut-collared Longspurs. After being onsite for about 20 minutes a Ferruginous Hawk slowly soared over.

26 young owls were banded, they were all 2-4 weeks old. Each one gets a colour band and an aluminum 9-digit band as well. Once banded and weighed they are placed back into their burrows.

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl recovery project works to reintroduce Burrowing Owls into their historical habitats in Southwestern Manitoba in the hopes that they will return. They create artificial burrows to provide the owls with nesting sites. They have placed about 190 burrows around Southwest Manitoba. They work with the Assiniboine Zoo to overwinter some adults to keep the project going each year.

Each experience was very interesting to see and to participate in. Thanks to each banding project for having us out! Our next visit will be to the Tall Grass Prairie MAPS banding near Tolstoi! We are looking forward to it!

— Meredith Stoesz

So Long Spring!

Well our Spring banding season just flew by!

We had many exciting birds including a male Bobolink, adult male Baltimore Oriole, male Orchard Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Gray-cheeked Thrush. The birds that we saw the most of this season were Yellow-rumped Warblers and Yellow-headed Blackbirds!

We caught 85 Yellow-headed Blackbirds and the original record for them in a season was 31!! In total we caught 634 birds and 44 species for a very successful Spring Banding Season!

Some of the visitors:

Fall banding will start back up again August 1st. If you are interested in volunteering or donating send an email to: deltamarshbirdobservatory@shaw.ca

See you in the Fall!

— Meredith Stoesz

Think Spring!

Our Spring banding season started off with Part 2 of our Bird Banding Workshop on April 27th and 28th. We had very poor weather (snow) and only caught a handful of birds. Luckily we were able to do some practicing inside and we all learnt quite a bit!

Don’t worry if you missed our banding workshop! We will be having another one in November.

Again, due to poor weather the first few days after the workshop weren’t very fruitful. Our patience with the weather, however, was rewarded with a wave of warblers! Wednesday, May 8th we banded 139 birds in two hours. 85 of those birds were Myrtle Warblers. It was BANANAS!

This year our Bander in Charge is once again, the lovely Kelsey Bell. She will be banding Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the month of May. Feel free to stop by to say hello and see some bird banding in action! Banding has also picked up since May 8th and is getting more exciting every day.

This year we are once again participating in The Great Canadian Birdathon! Our Birdathon day was May 12th and it was absolutely amazing! We have a list of 177 different species from 10 different locations. Two of those locations were in Ontario: Rondeau Provincial Park and Point Pelee. Some highlights included a Blue-headed Vireo, Prothonotary Warbler, Northern-rough Winged Swallow, Upland Sandpiper, Mountain Bluebird, and several other species of warblers, shorebirds, and birds of prey!! Check out our species list below.

So, thanks to our volunteers the Birdathon birding day was a complete success but we haven’t reached our fundraising goal yet. But don’t worry there is still time to donate! Check out our fundraising page, donate and show your support!!

Help us help birds!



Birdathon Species Lists

·       Greater White-fronted Goose

·       Snow Goose

·       Ross’s Goose

·       Canada Goose

·       Tundra Swan

·       Wood Duck

·       Gadwall

·       Mallard

·       Blue-winged Teal

·       Northern Shoveler

·       Northern Pintail

·       Green-winged Teal

·       Canvasback

·       Redhead

·       Ring-necked Duck

·       Lesser Scaup

·       Bufflehead

·       Common Goldeneye

·       Hooded Merganser

·       Common Merganser

·       Ruddy Duck

·       Ruffed Grouse

·       Sharp-tailed Grouse

·       Horned Grebe

·       Red-necked Grebe

·       Western Grebe

·       American White Pelican

·       Double-crested Cormorant

·       American Bittern

·       Great Blue Heron

·       Turkey Vulture

·       Osprey

·       Bald Eagle

·       Northern Harrier

·       Cooper’s Hawk

·       Broad-winged Hawk

·       Swainson’s Hawk

·       Red-tailed Hawk

·       American Kestrel

·       Merlin

·       Sora

·       American Coot

·       Sandhill Crane

·       Semipalmated Plover

·       Killdeer

·       American Avocet

·       Spotted Sandpiper

·       Solitary Sandpiper

·       Greater Yellowlegs

·       Willet

·       Lesser Yellowlegs

·       Upland Sandpiper

·       Marbled Godwit

·       Least Sandpiper

·       White-rumped Sandpiper

·       Short-billed Dowitcher

·       Long-billed Dowitcher

·       Wilson’s Snipe

·       American Woodcock

·       Wilson’s Phalarope

·       Franklin’s Gull

·       Ring-billed Gull

·       Forster’s Tern

·       Rock Dove

·       Mourning Dove

·       Great Horned Owl

·       Boreal Owl

·       Eastern Whip-poor-will

·       Ruby-throated Hummingbird

·       Belted Kingfisher

·       Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

·       Downy Woodpecker

·       Hairy Woodpecker

·       Northern Flicker

·       Pileated Woodpecker

·       Least Flycatcher

·       Eastern Phoebe

·       Blue-headed Vireo

·       Bluejay

·       Black-billed Magpie

·       American Crow

·       Common Raven

·       Horned Lark

·       Tree Swallow

·       Purple Martin

·       Northern Rough-winged Swallow

·       Barn Swallow

·       Cliff Swallow

·       Black-capped Chickadee

·       White-breasted Nuthatch

·       Brown Creeper

·       House Wren

·       Golden-crowned Kinglet

·       Ruby-crowned Kinglet

·       Mountain Bluebird

·       Swainson’s Thrush

·       Hermit Thrush

·       American Robin

·       European Starling

·       Yellow-rumped Warbler

·       Ovenbird

·       Northern Waterthrush

·       Black-and-white Warbler

·       Orange-crowned Warbler

·       Nashville Warbler

·       Common Yellowthroat

·       American Redstart

·       Cape May Warbler

·       Yellow Warbler

·       Blackpoll Warbler

·       Palm Warbler

·       Wilson’s Warbler

·       American Tree Sparrow

·       Chipping Sparrow

·       Clay-colored Sparrow

·       Vesper Sparrow

·       Savannah Sparrow

·       Song Sparrow

·       Lincoln’s Sparrow

·       Swamp Sparrow

·       White-throated Sparrow

·       Harris’s Sparrow

·       White-crowned Sparrow

·       Dark-eyed Junco

·       Rose-breasted Grosbeak

·       Red-winged Blackbird

·       Western Meadowlark

·       Yellow-headed Blackbird

·       Brewer’s Blackbird

·       Common Grackle

·       Brown-headed Cowbird

·       House Sparrow

·       House Finch

·       Pine Siskin

·       American Goldfinch


·       Mute Swan

·       Greater Scaup

·       Lesser Scaup

·       Common Merganser

·       Red-breasted Merganser

·       Wild Turkey

·       Common Loon

·       Double-crested Cormorant

·       Great Blue Heron

·       Great Egret

·       Killdeer

·       Lesser Yellowlegs

·       Ring-billed Gull

·       Herring Gull

·       Common Tern

·       Mourning dove

·       Eastern Screech-Owl

·       Ruby-throated Hummingbird

·       Red-headed Woodpecker

·       Red-bellied Woodpecker

·       Northern Flicker

·       Willow Flycatcher

·       Great Crested Flycatcher

·       Eastern Kingbird

·       Warbling Vireo

·       Blue Jay

·       Tree Swallow

·       Barn Swallow

·       Tufted Titmouse

·       Red-breasted Nuthatch

·       House Wren

·       Carolina Wren

·       Veery

·       Wood Thrush

·       Gray Catbird

·       Brown Thrasher

·       European Starling

·       Blue-winged Warbler

·       Prothonotary Warbler

·       Tennessee Warbler

·       Cape May warbler

·       Northern Parula

·       Magnolia Warbler

·       Bay-breasted Warbler

·       Blackburnian Warbler

·       Chestnut-sided Warbler

·       Black-throated Blue Warbler

·       Pine Warbler

·       Black-throated Green Warbler

·       Canada Warbler

·       Eastern Towhee

·       Field Sparrow

·       Scarlet Tanager

·       Northern Cardinal

·       Rose-breasted Grosbeak

·       Orchard Oriole

·       Baltimore oriole

·       House Sparrow

·       American Goldfinch

·       Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher










Fall Finale

Simply put, this Fall banding season has been epic. From our very first Mourning Dove to our final bird, it has been a complete roller coaster ride. The last two weeks were a bit of a waiting game. We had been waiting for those late arrivals to bring our species total to an even 70. We were banking on Chickadees and Tree Sparrows to help us out but alas the Chickadees evaded us and the Tree Sparrows hadn’t even arrived yet!  Luckily for us, we caught some weirdos.

Since our record breaking Cape May Warbler we managed to catch 6 more species including a Blue Jay, Vesper Sparrow, Brown Creeper, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Swainson’s Thrush.  Bringing our grand total to 71 species!! It’s just nutty!

Fall migration is always interesting and exciting but this year was full of surprises. We caught fewer of our usuals like Tennessee Warblers and Myrtle Warblers in favour of all the little odd balls like Blackpoll Warbler and Magnolia Warblers. In total we have broken 17 records, had 4 station firsts, and of course broke the species record!

It’s not just a good year for birds! This year we had Weasel sightings almost every day in September from Walter and Wendy the Short-tailed Weasels. They were so confident they would often sneak into the banding hut… while we were inside it!!

Our Bander in Charge this year, Kelsey, has been truly amazing! She banded every day of the fall season except for the very few bad weather days. She was incredibly welcoming to our volunteers, visitors, and groups. Thank you Kelsey!

We can’t say this enough, we are so grateful for all of our volunteers this year! They have been absolutely fantastic! Thank you so much to everyone who came out!! If you are interested in volunteering next year be sure to send an email to: deltamarshbirdobservatory@shaw.ca

If you’re not a morning person make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with all things Delta Marsh Bird Observatory!

Here is a little recap of our season but be sure to check out our final list and numbers when it’s up on the website. I’ve also included our final whiteboard of the season. See if you can decipher the four letter codes for each bird!

Our four station firsts include:

  • Mourning Dove
  • Purple Finch
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Brown Thrasher

We caught more of each of these species than in previous years:

        • Trail’s Flycatcher
        • Least Flycatcher
        • Lincoln’s Sparrow
        • Cedar Waxwing
        • Black-and-White Warbler
        • Orange-crowned Warbler
        • Magnolia Warbler
        • Chestnut-sided Warbler
        • Bay-breasted Warbler
        • Blackpoll Warbler
        • Northern Waterthrush
        • American Redstart
        • Mourning Warbler
        • House Wren
        • Sedge Wren
        • European Starling
        • Northern Flicker

    See you next season! Maybe even in the spring!

    -Meredith Stoesz

Record Breaking Season

‘Tis the season! For breaking records that is! Since our last post we have caught more Blackpoll Warblers, Trail’s Flycatchers, and Black-and-White Warblers than in previous years. Not only that, we actually broke the species record! Our 65th species was a lovely adult male Cape May Warbler.

What a treat! One of our more recent moments of excitement came from a Northern Flicker. It’s always so much fun when a heavy weight hits the net! This Flicker in particular was a female and she had plenty to say. We could barely hear each other over her chatter!


One bird that was very interesting to catch was an adult female American Robin. She was originally banded in 2016 and she was aged as an ‘after second year’ which means she’s at least 4 years old. Pretty impressive especially with the amount of Merlins and hawks around the marsh lately. It’s also so great to have her return here! Just imagine, she’s probably been back every year since, or we hope so. That just goes to show the quality of habitat we have here at Oak Hammock Marsh. We are all pretty lucky!

Only two more weeks to go and I think we can hit 70 species.