On May 17, Team Tanager of the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory participated in the Great Canadian Birdathon fundraiser. Teammates Wayne Bowles, Robyn Perkins, Bronwyn Robinson, and first-timer Sarahanne Thompson spent the morning at the migration monitoring station before heading out to tour a few hotspots.
The bird observatory did quite well, with 73 species spotted before we closed the nets. The highlight from the station was the spring’s first encounter of a singing bay-breasted warbler. This species prefers old growth forest and is unlikely to nest around the station.
After visiting some ponds between the park and town, we were able to add sora, ring-necked duck, and green-winged teal to our list before trekking into muskeg to find sandhill cranes. Though we did find the cranes, we could not find the sharp-tailed grouse, Canada jays, or dark-eyed juncos we were hoping to add as well.
The last big site was a pond which I have never seen this low – it even has mudflats. Here we found vesper sparrows replacing the LeConte’s sparrows and marsh wrens we had been hoping to find, and least sandpiper, Baird’s sandpiper, and whimbrel on the newfound mudflats. I’m sure there were more species there, but the afternoon heatwaves and thick smoke conspired to make identification impossible for most of these blurry impressions of birds. Overall, our afternoon hotspots were underwhelming, but Team Tanager was still able to find 94 bird species, beating out their 2022’s 92 species!
On their big day, May 20, Richard and Nicole Krikun of Team Birders in the Park had more success. Touring around Southern Alberta from Cypress Hills Provincial Park to Dinosaur Provincial Park, they found 99 species, with many observations that would have been thrilling for our northern team. Their highlights included burrowing owl and a dusky flycatcher!
This annual fundraiser so far has raised $420 for the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory between the two teams. If you would like to congratulate our teams on a job well done, our donation links are still open on our website at: LSLBO.org. If you would like to experience what we do first-hand, drop by for our 26th annual Songbird Festival with fun activities at the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation on Saturday, May 27, or register for the Bird Run/Walk (5K/10K) on Sunday, May 28.
The rest of the week has been quiet, with minimal overhead migration and only chipping and clay-coloured sparrows seemingly on the move. Some of these low-flying birds found the nets and have brought our spring’s banding total to 434 birds of 35 species. With just two and a half weeks to go, we are on the low end for captures and well below our average of 949 birds banded per spring.