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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Yukon Bird Observatories Update - May 19, 2011

The 2011 spring season is shaping up to be one of the most peculiar spring bird migrations since the Yukon Bird Observatories began migration monitoring in the Yukon over 10 years ago. This as been particularly evident at Albert Creek, were daily monitoring over multiple years has allowed us to gain an understanding of bird migration through the southern Yukon.

At the start of the season (late April), there was a noticeable absence of sparrows and it wasn't until the final days of April until small numbers of sparrows were encountered. Following the passage of the bulk of the early migrant sparrows, it was apparent that they were 2 to 3 weeks later than average and there was no apparent "fallout" of sparrows (white-crowns, fox) which normally occurs at this time of year.

Following the passage of the early migrating sparrows, some of the early season neotropical migrants such as Wilson's and Orange-crowned warblers appeared to be on schedule when they arrived in early to mid May.

More recently, some of the later season neotropical migrants such as Yellow and Blackpoll warblers appear to be showing up early. On May 14th and 15th, there was a notable pulse of movement for these two species following a period of inclement weather (which included nearly 4 inches of snow on the ground !!). These species are not typically seen at Albert Creek in any numbers until after May 20 so their presence a week ahead of schedule and on the heels of a snowstorm was most peculiar ! Additional early arrivals at the site have included Tennessee Warbler on May 16 and Least Flycatcher on May 18; previous early records for these species have been May 22 and May 23, respectively. To add to the strangeness of this spring, species such as Warbling Vireo and Gray-cheeked Thrush are yet to be encountered; both of these species are normally encountered at the site by the 16th of May.

On May 13, Albert Creek banded a Bufflhead (a species of duck); this is the 102nd bird species banded at the Yukon Bird Observatories since 2001 ! A Say's Phoebe (a species of flycatcher) was also banded at Albert Creek on 15th; this is only the second individual of this species banded to date at Albert Creek


At the McIntyre Marsh demonstration site, bird activity picked up substantially last weekend (May 14/15) with approximately 100 birds banded over the weekend. Bird species banded over interest included; Olive-sided Flycatcher, Solitary Sandpiper (5), juvenile Common Redpolls, Northern Waterthrush, Savannah Sparrow and numerous Tree and Violet-green Swallows. Thank you to the volunteer banding crew on the 14th/15th which included; Julie Bauer, Terry Skjonsberg, Todd Heakes, John Meikle and Nick Guenette.

Some photos from the last week are shown below (photos courtesy of Brad Bloemendel who spent 2 weeks volunteering at ACBO).


male Bufflehead


Wilson's Warbler


male Blackpoll Warbler


Solitary Sandpiper


Say's Phoebe

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yukon Bird Observatories Update - May 5, 2011

This past week saw a number of new species arriving at the Yukon Bird Observatories, particularly at Albert Creek (ACBO).

This past week, 330 birds were banded at ACBO. A noticeable movement of Fox Sparrow occurred from the 2nd to the 4th with 94 individuals banded. The numbers of Rusty Blackbird banded (51) have also been quite exceptional to date and is the second highest spring banding total for this species since ACBO began monitoring in 2001. Small numbers of Myrtle Warbler have been banded to date (16) and there is undoubtably many more individuals of this common species to arrive in the coming weeks. American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and White-crowned Sparrow continue to be banded in low numbers but no real movement has been noted to date. New species banded for the season this past week included the following; Hermit Thrush (May 4), Savannah Sparrow (May 4), Lincoln's Sparrow (May 1) and Golden-crowned Sparrow (May 5).

At McIntyre Marsh in the past week, the station operated during the weekend and sporadically during the week. A substantial movement of birds has not yet been seen at the site; however, a number of new species have been arriving at the site over the course over the previous week. New species banded in the past week have included Dark-eyed Junco, Lincoln's Sparrow, Myrtle Warbler, American Tree Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrow. The most notable bird sighting was the Song Sparrow which has been singing in the early morning of the past week (this is presumably the same individual banded at the site on April 30). This species is considered rare in the Whitehorse; however, it has occurred at the site in the past. Two new species of shorebird (Lesser Yellowlegs and Wilson Snipe have also arrived at the marsh).

Savannah Sparrow

Hermit Thrush

Rusty Blackbird (male)

Song Sparrow