2020 MAPS bird surveys are off to a success at Big Valley

Yellow warbler (Photo by NCC)

Yellow warbler (Photo by NCC)

We kicked off the 2020 MAPS season this summer at Big Valley with two successul sessions. MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) is a continent-wide program that monitors bird demographics and contributes to bird conservation. A standardized system of fine mesh nets is used to capture birds during the summer nesting season, and MAPS operators band the birds, collecting data on their age, sex, body condition and reproductive status. The captured birds are given a lightweight, uniquely numbered aluminum leg band and released unharmed.

This (2020) is the third season for banding at the Big Valley MAPS station. Last season, over the course of six sessions, we captured 109 newly banded birds and 43 recaptured birds of 23 different species. Data from these sessions will enable Saskatchewan conservationists to learn the health of local bird populations and will also be used to inform NCC’s management of the property.

On our first two sessions of 2020, we captured 69 birds, including 53 newly banded birds and 16 recaptured birds, of 12 different species.

A highlight from our first session was recapturing a male yellow warbler that we initially banded as an "after second year" bird in 2018, meaning that he is at least four years old this year! Considering these birds live such perilous lives and have long migrations, that is truly a feat. Another highlight was finding a yellow warbler nest beside one of our nets (net 2). Coincidentally, this nest may belong to the yellow warbler described above, as he was caught in net 2 and made sure to scold us for most of the morning to let us know! Our second session was dubbed the “Day of the Wren” because nearly half of the birds captured were house wrens. We also captured the first clay-coloured sparrow of the season and the "first hatch year" bird, a black-capped chickadee, which was as feisty as it was adorable and made sure to give us a parting bite before flying away.

Black-capped Chickadee (Photo by NCC) Clay-coloured Sparrow (Photo by NCC)L

Left to right: black-capped chickadee and clay-coloured sparrow  (Photos by NCC)

With the 2020 season officially on its way, we have four more sessions planned at Big Valley to collect more data.

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