Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 56

Birds of the Boreal

BY BRUCE MURPHY

For Wild Northerner

One of the exciting challenges of running a bird banding station for more than 20 years is it is difficult to capture and band new species, and yet this past spring we managed to band two new species of birds that I was beginning to wonder if we would ever band.

The first bird we managed to capture was a broad winged hawk. Broad wings are fairly common to the North and enjoy feeding on frogs and snakes, but will also take rodents and birds when they need to. This spring, as part of our raptor banding program, we were able to band three broad wing hawks which is exceptional indeed. The credit for this goes to our banding intern, Nick Alioto, who led our raptor banding crew to this wonderful accomplishment.

The other new species was extracted by Mohammed Fahmy, who hails all the way from Egypt, attracted by the allure of banding in the boreal forest. He and I flushed a LeConte’s sparrow into one of our nets and this bird was banded by Nick. We were excited as there have only been 109 of these sparrows ever banded in Ontario. A few of these birds were detected at the marsh back in 1993 when the land was surveyed before the wetland was constructed. We knew they were here but they are very secretive and spend a great deal of time running in tunnels in the grass rather than flying so we were excited to capture the very first for the marsh.