Monday, July 8, 2013

Breeding Bird Surveys

Well, its been a bit since I last posted....things have been happening! Work, aka breeding bird season, as well as working on school (more on that shortly) have been hectic!

On the Canada Day long-weekend, My Dad and I went on a whirlwind trip up to Cochrane, conducting 2 BBS routes for Environment Canada and Bird Studies Canada. BSC, in partnership with CWS has an incentive program running, where participants conducting BBS routes in northern Ontario can claim up to $400/500 per route, IF they are willing to do the route(s) for at least 3 years (3 years is needed to enable CWS to analyze/compare the data you collect)! For more information, check out BSC's link:

The BBS is a North American run (led by the US Geological Survey and the CWS), roadside survey, used for monitoring bird populations. BBS routes are 40km in length. Participants are required to stop every 800m, listening for 3 minutes at each point count, recording every bird they hear within 400m. Basically for a birder, as well as someone who does breeding bird work for consulting firms this is the ultimate 'test', so to speak in engaging your auditory bird skills! :)

I signed up for two this year and have already agreed to a 3rd route next year! Our routes were located about 100km east of Cochrane and the other centred around the town of Matachewan.

Both sites were really different, but interesting in the different species we encountered.

The Cochrane site (Kabika Lake), was what you'd think of for the far northern boreal stuff, picking up most of the boreal breeders: Connecticut Warbler, Boreal Chickadee, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-backed Woodpecker, Spruce Grouse, not too mention some surprising stuff like a E. Whip-poor Will and a Pine Warbler, both quite far north of their expected breeding ranges in northern Ontario.

To see a complete list of what we saw (cumulatively), click the link:

A pair of VERY territorial Great Yellowlegs, on the Kabika Lake BBS route, June 30, 2013.

After doing the Kabika Lake BBS, we headed back into Cochrane. The drive from Cochrane took a while, since we were in my Dad's Toyota Camry, we had to go slow, since the roads weren't too great (but not that bad for logging roads!). After lunch we headed towards Matachewan, almost 300km from Kabika Lake!

Getting into Matachewan we scouted the route, before grabbing a place to stay (we camped along the road at our Kabika Lake site).

The Matachewan route was really good too, being very different from Kabika Lake. Warblers seemed to be present in higher diversity (and numbers), but we still had some boreal species, like Black-backed Woodpecker, Lincoln's Sparrows, but we were also getting species you think of for Central Ontario, like Black-throated Blue Warbler and lots and lots of Veeries!

Alder Flycatchers are relatively common in northern Ontario, depending on habitat

Check out our ebird checklist for the route:

It was a pretty fun jaunt up north. We saw lots of birds, but also some cool total 5 Bears, and a short but sweet look at a Lynx, as well as good looks at a Wolf!

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