News and posts

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.

-Meredith

Migration Mayhem

The last two weeks have been phenomenal! Migration has been action packed and there’s been barely a moment to take a breather. Which is great! Our 500th bird was banded on August 16th and it happened to be a record breaker. It was our 2nd Sedge Wren of the season and we normally only catch 1. We have been breaking records left and right! We have caught more Cedar Waxwings, Mourning Warblers, Northern Waterthrush, Chestnut-sided Warblers, House Wrens, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and European Starlings than in previous years. It’s bananas!

During the last two weeks we caught some rarities for our station. We had our first ever Purple Finch, Brown Thrasher, and Merlin! We have also been lucky enough to catch the 2nd ever Eastern Towhee and Blackburnian Warbler. Overall it’s been a very exciting time!

Just 12 days after our 500th bird banded, we made it to 1000! We also banded our 50th species, a Lincoln’s Sparrow, and we are well on our way to break that record too! Just waiting on some of our later migrants to make their way through the province.

Every day we have lots of volunteers come out bright and early and we are so thankful! It’s great to have help that early in the morning and we are so glad that everyone is so excited! Kelsey has been doing a great job and her passion and excitement for each new bird is infectious.

In other news, we’ve had a very curious Short-tailed Weasel hanging around. When there are predators in the area we always make sure that the birds are safe. Therefore we have had to close the nets quite a few times because this Weasel is the most confident Weasel out there! Another cool wildlife sighting lately was River Otters! Clayton, one of our volunteers, was lucky enough to spot them and get some great photos!

With one month left of banding, we have lots of time to break more records and see some more interesting wildlife. Looking forward to the next couple of weeks!

-Meredith

The Early Bird gets the Worm!

Migration is on!

The first two weeks of banding have been very busy. So far nets have been closed early only a few times due to heat. Southern Manitoba has been experiencing a few heat waves this summer so rain has definitely not been a problem. (Knock on wood)

So far we have banded 374 birds within the first two weeks of banding. Averaging about 40 birds a day. We are now at a total of 28 species!

There have been many highlights! It seems almost every day we have a new one. We have already been seeing non-resident warblers making their way south through the marsh. Some seem to be a tad early but that’s okay! We’ve already caught 7 Tennessee Warblers and hopefully we will see them through to September. Of course we have been catching Common Yellowthroats and Yellow Warblers (our resident warblers) Currently Yellow Warblers make up the majority of birds banded at 108.

Kelsey was very excited about her first Black and White Warbler and Nashville Warblers banded in the past week.

Every morning there are thousands of Blackbirds that migrate from one area of the marsh to the next. So it’s no surprise that we have been catching them! We’ve had a very good variety of blackbird species. Including Yellow-headed Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, 1 Bobolink, and 3 European Starlings. We’re just waiting on some Orioles. (We’ve heard them!)

Some of our recent observations have been Sandhill Cranes, many American White Pelicans, Canada Geese have been moving around and making, Catbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, and tons of Wrens. There has also been a young Coyote that has greeted us a couple of mornings, many many toads, and we’ve been lucky enough to catch two Common Green Darners along with some other dragonflies.

All in all the first couple of weeks have been just perfect. Beautiful weather and lots of birds. Just the way we like it!

— Meredith Stoesz

Banding begins !

Our first day of Fall Banding was August 3rd.

Although it may not feel like fall, migration seems to be in full swing. Huge flocks of Blackbirds and Gulls greet us every morning during their commute from one end of the marsh to the other.

This year’s bander in charge is Kelsey Bell, one of our dedicated volunteers from the last two seasons. She also has banding experience from 3 field seasons banding Grassland birds in Montana and some time banding Fairy Wrens in Australia so she is bringing a ton of knowledge with her. Kelsey will be banding everyday from 30 minutes before sunrise for 6 hours. Weather permitting of course.

Our brand new banding hut is being put to the Fall Banding test and it is working out fabulously! We are hoping to raise funds towards electrifying the building to keep us (and the birds) warm on those chilly fall or spring mornings. Not only is the hut working well but it looks great too! We are so lucky and grateful to our volunteers that helped us build it.

This year we have had lots of interest from past volunteers and new volunteers. Of course, being primarily volunteer run we are always looking for more! If you or anyone you know would like to volunteer for the station feel free to send an email to deltamarshbirdobservatory@shaw.ca

A big highlight from our first few days included the first ever Mourning Dove banded at DMBO! We’ve been waiting patiently for one of those doves to fly in and it finally happened. A couple other highlights include a Warbling Vireo, American Goldfinch, and Cedar Waxwings. Lucky for us there’s a Cedar Waxwing nest nearby so we will probably be able to get all those babies banded too.

So far the Fall season is shaping up to be a good one! We are so looking forward to what the next two months bring.

— Meredith Stoesz