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Fall migration monitoring under way at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory

Northern Saw Whet Owl. Photo by David Okines

Northern Saw Whet Owl. Photo by David Okines

By Cheryl Anderson
Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory
Once again the colourful warblers, flycatchers and shore birds that passed through the County on their way to the boreal forest in spring are now making their way back south to their wintering grounds in South and Central America.

Migration monitoring at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory has started for the fall season. Bander in charge David Okines and assistant Gill Holmes arrived in the County on August 10. With net lanes cleared and nets up, the annual fall season got started on August 15.

Bobolink. Photo by Cheryl Anderson

Bobolink. Photo by Cheryl Anderson

In concert with regular passerine monitoring, at this time of year the Observatory also runs a Bobolink program. Nets are set up in a meadow area and a Bobolink call broadcasts to attract the iconic grassland species as they move over the peninsula on their way to migrate south.

Bobolink has been designated as a threatened species in Ontario. In the spring their bubbling brook song may be heard in hayfields and pasturelands throughout the County. Over the past 10 years the population has declined by 33 per cent in Ontario. The decline in available breeding habitat is at least part of the reason for this population decline; as is the increasing tendency to harvest hayfields early in the season overlapping the bird’s peak breeding season.

This year the Observatory is expanding the Bobolink program into the Miller Family Nature Reserve. Funding has been received from Environment Canada through the Habitat Stewardship Program to hire a licensed bander and fund the purchase of necessary materials and equipment. Bobolink banding is currently under way in the Miller Reserve and will continue until September 4. In the first week 131 Bobolinks were banded.

In October, the Observatory begins banding Northern Saw-whet Owls at night. Jacques Turner-Moss will arrive from Great Britain to assist with this program. The little owls are a favourite with all visitors. Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to visit and get up close and personal with Saw-whets. Daytime programs will also be available; including 9 am guided birding hikes, a raptor watch, and special kids programs. Watch local media for more information.

Visitors are always welcome at the Bird Observatory, but remember for the safety of the birds, it does not operate in inclement weather. For more information visit

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