Wellington County, ON
25 January 2015
Surely one of the most delightful benefits of living in a climate where winter dominates for part of the year is the presence of Snow Buntings Plectrophenax nivalis.
This morning Miriam and I spent a few hours in a corner of Wellington County where we have had great success in locating this species over a period of several years. Today proved to be no exception.
One fellow, who we see almost every year, seems to be intent on banding as many Snow Buntings as he possibly can and he was again present plying his métier.
As you can see, he had three cages set up, all baited with corn, and the availability of food seems to be an attraction many of the birds simply cannot resist. At all times each of his cages contained several birds and even after emptying them there were other birds entering the trap in short order.
It seemed to us that he did not empty the pens as often as might be hoped and when he did he placed eight or ten birds in a bag to carry them back to his truck from where he was applying the bands and recording the appropriate details.
However, we are not privy to the protocols of banding Snow Buntings so perhaps this is accepted practice.
The day was cold (around minus 13°C) and there was a strong wind, but these tiny birds face the conditions without any problem at all and are expert in exploiting every micro climate in their search for food.
We were parked off to the side of the road ( a dirt road in this area) and the birds were often observed feeding on grit. They always seemed to park in front of our vehicle, however, never coming to the side to permit decent photographs.
It was quite marvelous to spend a half hour with these little gems and we hope to repeat the experience a few times before the winter is over.