Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley
Mississippi River at Pakenham

Snow buntings

MVFN Nature Notebook Recent Sighting and report: 

“We also had a very exciting experience last week-end. A bird bander came to our property to band the Snow Buntings. I had been in contact with the Snow Bunting Network for several years, pleading for them to send a bird bander to my place! There are several banding stations in Quebec, along the St Lawrence, and also around the Great Lakes, but nothing in between. My location is perfect, right in the middle!
 
Finally, Rick Ludkin, a veteran bird bander, came with his wife and a young apprentice and we caught and banded 89 Snow Buntings! It was an experience I will never forget. As an avid birder, I always wanted to observe a bird banding session, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen right in my kitchen!!” 
Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids
Snow Buntings, Lanark, Jan 3, 2016. photo Lise Balthazar

Snow Buntings, Lanark, Jan 3, 2016. photo Lise Balthazar

Banding of the Lanark Snow Buntings:

My name is Lise Balthazar and I live in Lanark Highlands with my husband, Nat Capitanio. Every year, we have a large flock of Snow Buntings on our property; we feed them white millet. I had been in contact with the Snow Bunting Network, asking if they could send a bird bander to our property. Finally, on the week-end of February 11th, 2017, we had a veteran bird bander from the Waterloo area, Rick Ludkin and his wife, come to our property, along with a young apprentice from Montreal, Catherine Lavallée-Chouinard. We set up the traps, which are basically large cages on the ground with food in it; the birds make their way in to feed but can’t find their way out. As soon as several birds are trapped, time is of the essence. The birds are put into bags and brought to the banding station…which was our kitchen!!

Very quickly and expertly, Rick and Catherine pulled the birds out of the bags, measured them, determined the sex and age, checked the muscle mass and the fat and the weight. After all that, Rick would hand me each bird so that I could release it back into the wild. It was an exhilarating and emotional experience I will never forget.

We caught and banded a total of 89 Snow Buntings. We collected very important data which is sent to Canadian Wildlife Services. Snow Buntings are declining in numbers and the Snow Bunting Network is studying these beautiful little birds and their movements. They usually arrive in our area in December and leave at the beginning of March to go back to Groenland and Baffin Island to nest.

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Live trapping the snow buntings. Photo Lise Balthazar

Snow bunting banding, temporary live holding

Birds were put into bags to be brought into the banding station, the kitchen.

The team at work in the kitchen.

Snow bunting banding 2

Very quickly, birds were brought out of the bags, banded, and quickly checked before release to the wild

Checking muscle mass and fat during the banding process.

Checking muscle mass and fat during the banding process.

Checking sex and age during banding.

Checking sex and age during banding.

Releasing the snow buntings!

Releasing the snow buntings!

Snow bunting banding release 2

 

 

MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting: Hundreds of Snow Buntings

Sighting received Jan 11, 2017: Lise Balthazar is seeing hundreds of Snow Buntings on her property and sends some photos:

” The numbers have been gradually increasing and we now have about 200 birds visiting and feeding every day. I feed them white millet. I keep in touch with the Snow Bunting Network; they have volunteers who do banding of those birds to track their movements and to try to understand why their numbers are declining. For years now, I have been asking that group if someone could come and band some of our birds, but I haven’t had any success yet.”

Snow Buntings, Lanark, Jan 3, 2016. photo Lise Balthazar

Snow Buntings, Lanark, Jan 3, 2017. photo Lise Balthazar

Snow Buntings, Lanark. photo Lise Balthazar

Snow Buntings, Lanark. photo Lise Balthazar

Snow Buntings, Lanark, Jan 6, 2017. photo Lise Balthazar

Snow Buntings, Lanark, Jan 6, 2017. photo Lise Balthazar

snow-buntings-lanark-jan-2017

Lise Balthazar

Sheridan Rapids

 

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Our natural history talks are at 7:30 pm on the third Thursday in January, February, March, April,  September, October and November at Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St. in Almonte, Ontario. All are welcome to attend! Non-members $5. 

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