Frontenac Bird Studies – The 2013 Season

IMAGE6

Our fifth straight season of avian monitoring and research in the Frontenac Arch was a success and is now officially wrapped up! A substantial amount of data was collected in 2013 and has now finally been proofed, entered, sorted and examined. Here’s a quick recap of the major highlights from 2013  – the season of the survey….

.

Point Counts Abound

IMG_0961
Surveying along Canoe Lake Road, June, 2013

This past year we conducted a lot of point count surveys – 258 in all, to be exact. Many of these (164) were repeat surveys at fixed stations that were first sampled in 2009. Overall, the effort required >40 kms of walking in Frontenac Provincial Park and stops every 500m along 56km of roadways throughout the study area. Over time, the data enables us to monitor changes in breeding bird populations in a broad array of landscape conditions. Overall, we observed a small decline since 2009 (-3.9%). Minor changes in abundance, positive or negative, are evident for most species, however some have shifted more markedly in recent years. Yellow-throated Vireos, for example, increased in abundance on point counts by a whopping 250% in 2013!

.

Cerulean Warblers in the Frontenac Arch

In 2013, we collaborated with Bird Studies Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service as part of a project to survey Cerulean Warblers. The study looked at populations across a 300 km extent from Georgian Bay to the Frontenac Arch. Results from this project and our own studies strongly support the value of Frontenac Provincial Park forests to Cerulean Warbler populations in Canada. Perhaps North America’s fastest declining wood-warbler, the Cerulean Warbler has been assessed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Ontario.

.

Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship (MAPS): 2009-2013

Our fifth consecutive MAPS season came to a close on August 4, 2013. After the bumper 2009 season, a substantial decline in population diversity and abundance was detected, reaching a five-year low in 2011. This past season saw the first signs of a rebound with an overall record-high productivity index and also three-year high capture rates for many species. The program is a key component of our breeding bird monitoring objectives by providing annual assessments of forest bird demographics. We are pleased to report that “Mr.33”, a male Veery banded at MABO as a hatch-year in 2009 has returned each year since, including 2013! His travels from the Frontenac Arch to Brazil amount to >56,000 km over eight migrations. This distance is equivalent to one and a half trips around the globe – incredible!

3634878876_c71a8d70e6_o
Veery nest at MABO in 2009

.

These are just a few of many stories from the 2013 season of Frontenac Bird Studies. Our program exists through the assistance of many wonderfully supportive individuals and organizations. The Migration Research Foundation thanks the following for their contribution to FBS in 2013!

.

Funding

The John Hackney Foundation for the Noosphere
Frontenac Avian Atlas Day sponsors

Volunteers

Chris Dunn
Steve Gillis
Seabrooke Leckie

Project Support

Corina Brdar
Ontario Parks

Peter Dawson
Ontario Parks

Bert Korporaal
Ontario Parks

Chris Robinson
Ontario Parks

Ken and Vera Shepherd

Advertisements

Frontenac Bird Studies – The 2011 Season

Undoubtedly, the 2011 edition of our program was our most action-packed and challenging to date

The third consecutive spring/summer field season came to an end with this year’s final session of the Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship (MAPS) program on August 6, 2011. The three years of MAPS data point to a marked reduction in abundance of many landbird species in forest habitats of the region. The pattern is particularly evident at our Maplewood Bog station near Devil Lake, where season capture totals have dropped from 197 individuals in 2009 to just 89 in 2011. The apparent declines are concurrent at all three stations, which are spatially disjunctive and representative of a broad spectrum of landscape conditions. It is likely that the current negative trend will be short-lived and a product of natural population shifts but continued monitoring for at least two more years is needed to strengthen analysis and assess cause and effect.

In 2010 we completed basic inventories of Prairie Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush populations in the study area, primarily in Frontenac Provincial Park. This year we repeated these exercises and expanded area coverage to begin monitoring year-to-year variation in population size and breeding status. We also began a more in-depth assessment of Prairie Warblers in the area to examine breeding status, survivorship and breeding ecology. These studies were very productive and will be fully explored in the year-end report later this year.

Weather in May was extremely wet, which created exceptionally fertile conditions for black flies and mosquitos. Endlessly attended by the biting swarms, our studies carried us by foot and by canoe over ridges and valleys, to lakes, bogs, barrens and creeks throughout the study area – over 250km in all. Many notable finds were made, which included active nests of Red-headed Woodpecker, Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Prairie Warbler. Also notable were records of eight at-risk bird species as well as locally significant observations of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Five-lined Skink, Sedge Wren, Sandhill Crane and Red-bellied Woodpecker, to name a few.

Our second annual Frontenac Biothon fundraiser was a tremendous success thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and volunteer naturalists. We searched high and low for species during a 24-hour period on June 11-12 in Frontenac Provincial Park. We surpassed our 2010 total of 441 with a final tally of 468. In the end, we raised some important funds for the project, produced an impressive array of records and had a memorable weekend to boot!

Frontenac Bird Studies exists through the support of many individuals and organizations. The Migration Research Foundation thanks the following for their contribution to FBS in 2011!

Funding

The John Hackney Foundation for the Noosphere
Ontario Parks
Frontenac Biothon sponsors

FBS MAPS Assistant

Seabrooke Leckie

Frontenac Biothon

Chris Dunn
Karina Dykstra
Steve Gillis
Seabrooke Leckie
Julia Marko Dunn

Support

Corina Brdar
Ontario Parks

Monique Charette
OMNR

Peter Dawson
Ontario Parks

Audrey Heagy
Bird Studies Canada

Bert Korporaal
Ontario Parks

Chris Robinson
Ontario Parks

Ken Shepherd

Don Sutherland
OMNR, NHIC

Sincerely,

Dan Derbyshire
Project Lead, Frontenac Bird Studies
Migration Research Foundation

Frontenac Bird Studies – The 2010 Season

Prairie Warbler - Frontenac Prov. Park, June 2010.

.

Year two of our Frontenac Bird Studies program is now complete!

.
While our inaugural season in 2009 was chock-full of surveys, the 2010 season was all about Species at Risk. Weather during this year’s breeding season, like last year, was atypical, particularly in June with record high rainfall. We successfully completed another year of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship Program (MAPS) and now have three stations sampling avian demographics for over 150 square kilometres of habitat in Frontenac County. Our results this year suggest that return rates and breeding success in the region was low, perhaps owing to the intemperate weather experienced during the last three breeding seasons. The MAPS season was not without its bright spots though as Pileated Woodpecker, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo were added to the list of species being monitored by our growing MAPS network.

A primary objective for this year was to conduct inventories of two rare Ontario breeders – the Louisiana Waterthrush and Prairie Warbler. The Louisiana Waterthrush inventory began in late April and concluded in June. Sixteen streams and creeks were surveyed using an area search/playback method, which resulted in the identification of five breeding sites. Two of the sites were previously unknown, including an interior site in Frontenac Provincial Park where a nest with four eggs above a waterfall was discovered.

Once classified a Species at Risk, the Prairie Warbler was delisted in 2004 but remains one of the rarest breeding birds in Ontario and Canada. In contrast to the Louisiana Waterthrush, which occupies cool, shaded ravines in mature forest, the Prairie Warbler inhabits dry, barren habitat dominated by exposed rock, juniper and scrub. Building off our discovery of a few singing males along Slide Lake in 2009, we launched the first thorough inventory of Prairie Warblers in Frontenac Provincial Park this year. The effort was worthwhile as what is likely the largest colony outside of the Georgian Bay “core” population was found – a significant discovery. Between 20 and 30 singing males were found this summer along with four females and an exciting encounter of a pair feeding fledged young in late June.

We also conducted nest monitoring for all active nests encountered during the breeding season. Highlights of 2010 include the first documented breeding records of Ring-billed Gull and Herring Gull for Frontenac Provincial Park, the aforementioned Louisiana Waterthrush nest as well as records of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-shouldered Hawk, Veery, Ovenbird, Yellow-throated Vireo and Chestnut-sided Warbler, to name a few.

In July five nature nuts got together to run our first ever Frontenac Biothon fundraiser. After gathering sponsorships our biothon team travelled to Frontenac Provincial Park with an aim to identify as many species of living things as possible in a 24-hour period. A total of 441 species were recorded. The highlight of the weekend was the discovery of a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers occupying a flooded swamp near Devil Lake. This species, now classified as Threatened, has rapidly declined in Eastern Ontario and to my knowledge hasn’t been found in Frontenac Park in many years.

There were many other highlights of the field season, too many to list here. A detailed report will be written in the fall and all of our data will be disseminated to the appropriate agencies as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us for further information.

The Frontenac Arch region continues to astound us with its biodiversity and its significance to Ontario’s vibrant bird populations. We hope that our work will improve the understanding of the region’s birds and bring some attention to its conservation.

Frontenac Bird Studies exists through the support of many individuals and organizations. A big thanks are due to the following for their contribution to FBS in 2010!

Funding

The John Hackney Foundation for the Noosphere
Swish Maintenance Limited

Volunteers and Sponsors

Pierre Robillard and Jan McDonald
Don Johnston
Andrew Jano
Ian Sturdee
David Mcintosh
Julia Marko Dunn
Christopher Dunn
Steve Gillis
Karina Dykstra
Seabrooke Leckie

MAPS Assistant

Seabrooke Leckie

Support

Peter Dawson
Ontario Parks

Corina Brdar
Ontario Parks

Chris Robinson
Ontario Parks

Bert Korporaal
Ontario Parks

Monique Charette
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Peter Vass
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

-Dan Derbyshire, FBS Coordinator

Migration Research Foundation

A Summer for the Birds

3668800446_1eb3dbbe3f
Broad-winged Hawk banded at Rock Ridge MAPS Station (Seabrooke Leckie)

 

FBS kicks avian research and monitoring into high gear!


Year one of the Frontenac Bird Studies (FBS) program has been a great success!  Over 200 surveys of breeding birds were completed in June and July throughout the FBS study area, which encompasses over 15,000 hectares between Sydenham and Westport, Ontario. This substantial effort, which included roughly 42 kilometres of walking in Frontenac Provincial Park, revealed an incredibly rich avian community. Several Species at Risk in the area were encountered including Whip-poor-will, Common Nighthawk, Louisiana Waterthrush, Golden-winged Warbler and a remarkably high number of Cerulean Warblers. We also established a new network of Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) stations to index and monitor critical demographic patterns for breeding landbirds in the Frontenac Arch. Over 300 birds were banded and recaptured during the summer for this program, the most unusual of which was an adult Broad-winged Hawk captured at our Rock Ridge site in June. A nest monitoring effort was also initiated this summer to assist in the collection of demographic statistics for local bird populations. Over 70 nests were carefully monitored in 2009, which included records of Winter Wren, Brown Creeper, Common Nighthawk, Whip-poor-will, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Waterthrush, Osprey and Red-shouldered Hawk, to name a few. And finally, Project Whip-poor-will successfully took flight with over 30 roadside surveys conducted in late June and early July. These nocturnal surveys were timed to coincide with the full moon – peak time for vocalizing Whip-poor-wills. Impressively, over 50 Whip-poor-wills, now classified as a threatened species, were detected during the surveys!

These are just a few of the highlights from our busy summer that further support the Frontenac Arch as a region of significance to bird populations in Ontario and Canada. Frontenac Breeding Birds in 2009, our first year of the project, will serve as an integral foundation for us going forward. The program was made possible by a network of spirited and generous volunteers, collaborators and donors. Staff and directors of the Migration Research Foundation extend a big thanks to the following for their integral support in 2009!

Funding

The John Hackney Foundation for the Noosphere
The McLean Foundation

Volunteers and Sponsors

Andrew Jano
Don Johnston
Friends and family of Gail Woolnough
Ian Sturdee
Jan McDonald
Julia Marko Dunn
Kerry Adams
Larry Menard
Matthew MacGillivray
Pierre Robillard
Sally Wills
Seabrooke Leckie (Research Assistant)
Steve Gillis
Wendy Derbyshire

Support

Peter Dawson
Ontario Parks

Bert Korporaal
Ontario Parks

Chris Robinson
Ontario Parks

Staff, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Mark Peck
Royal Ontario Museum

Ron Weir
Kingston Field Naturalists

Don Ross & David Bull
Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve

Audrey Heagy & Jon McCracken
Bird Studies Canada

We are already looking forward to 2010, our second year of the Frontenac Breeding Birds project, and encourage everyone to visit our website for more information on FBS programs (www.frontenacbirds.ca), or contact us at fbs@migrationresearch.org.

Sincerely,

Dan Derbyshire
Project Lead, Frontenac Bird Studies
Migration Research Foundation
2386 Bathurst Concession 5
RR7 Perth, ON
K7H 3C9
fbs ‘AT’ migrationresearch.org
http://www.migrationresearch.org
http://www.frontenacbirds.ca