Gabby Higney
For the Lakeside Leader

Believe it or not, fall migration monitoring for the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory is underway.

Already we have banded 599 birds from 35 species.

Although overhead migration has been relatively slow, tree swallows, myrtle warblers and yellow warblers are already on the move.

This week also saw the second to last period of the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program, which focuses on locally breeding birds.

Our nets are catching some older birds, which have begun their molting process for a fresh set of feathers needed for their long journey. Even more commonly captured are birds in juvenile plumage and some fledglings.

This week, we were excited to capture two juvenile dark-eyed juncos.

Although they may not sound very exotic, they do not breed around the station and we have captured fewer than a dozen juncos in their streaky juvenile plumage. In fact, the last junco that we have captured so young was in 2004.

The dark-eyed junco is very commonly found during its migration when it forages in yards and parks.

The dark-eyed junco is a member of the sparrow family and there are four distinguishable subspecies that can be found throughout Alberta.

The ‘slate-coloured junco’ prefers to nest in the boreal forest and is local to Slave Lake.

Slate-coloured juncos can be identified by their distinctive white outer tail feathers, grey or brown-grey colouring, a clean white belly and a light-pink coloured bill.

This item is reprinted with permission from the Slave Lake, AB, Lakeside Leader. For the complete article, click HERE

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