[Ontbirds]Shorebird Breeding Success 2006 - Northern Canada

Jean Iron jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Thu Jul 27 19:16:42 EDT 2006

Here are preliminary reports of the presumed shorebird breeding success in 
the Hudson Bay Lowland in northern Ontario and northern Manitoba, and from 
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, in the western Canadian Arctic.

Hudson Bay Lowland: Early indications are that shorebirds had an excellent 
breeding season. In Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson Bay, Bonnie Chartier 
reports that, "Things were looking good while I was there during the last 
three weeks of June. Since Churchill had good weather the birds did well in 
spite of the Herring Gulls and Common Ravens." Just a few days ago, Ken 
Abraham of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (fide Ken Ross of 
Canadian Wildlife Service) reported shorebirds were present in huge numbers 
on Hudson Bay coast of Ontario with apparently many juveniles. It may have 
been a bumper nesting season in the Hudson Bay Lowland and James Bay area 
of the eastern Canadian Arctic. This area has significant breeding 
populations of Semipalmated Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, 
Solitary Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit (small James 
Bay population), Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Stilt 
Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Wilson's Snipe.

Western Canadian Arctic: I received a detailed report from Jim Richards of 
Ontario, who has been going to Cambridge Bay for many summers, indicating a 
poor breeding season there this summer. Cambridge Bay is on southeastern 
Victoria Island, in western Nunavut, north of the Arctic Circle. Jim was 
there from June 27 to July 6. He reports that not just the shorebirds, but 
most birds were in lower numbers and many were not nesting. Cambridge Bay 
had a warm spring and early summer. When Jim arrived on June 27, the 
wildflowers looked like the third week of July. By July 3 there were no Red 
Phalaropes; prior to that, he saw only about 2 birds per day. Red-necked 
Phalaropes also were in lower numbers. When he left on July 6, fall 
migration was underway. Small flocks of Stilt Sandpipers were departing. 
Pectoral Sandpipers were seen feeding only; Jim saw 4 one day whereas he 
normally sees about 6 to 10. Usually there are about 4 nesting pairs of 
Ruddy Turnstones in the area. Jim noted only 2 turnstones on July 1. 
Numbers of American Golden-Plovers were 8-10 per day which is about 1/3 of 
normal and he found only 1 nest. But Black-bellied Plovers were seen in 
record high numbers and he found 4 nests, which is double the normal 
number. Jim saw 3 Baird's Sandpipers whereas most years he sees about 20. 
Semiplamated Sandpipers were about 1/4 of their usual numbers. Stilt 
Sandpipers (10/day) were down about 80%. Semipalmated Plovers were about 
1/2 of their usual numbers. Jim saw only 3 lemmings at Cambridge Bay 
indicating a crash there. Mark Peck of the Royal Ontario Museum says that 
lemming crashes almost always mean a reduced breeding success for 
shorebirds in affected areas. Note that shorebird breeding success was 
probably much better in the rest of the western Canadian Arctic. Vicky 
Johnston (fide Jim Richards) of the Canadian Wildlife Service said her 
impression for the western Arctic was that shorebird numbers were normal.

The above information is preliminary. We will know more as the migration 
advances. Observers south of the breeding grounds are encouraged to record 
the species, arrival dates, numbers and percentages of adult and juvenile 
shorebirds. This information will help determine this year's breeding 
success in the Arctic.

Acknowlegements: I am grateful for the valuable information from Ken 
Abraham, Bonnie Chartier, Glenn Coady, Michel Gosselin, Jean Iron, Mark 
Peck, Jim Richards, Ken Ross and Don Sutherland.

Ron Pittaway
Minden and Toronto ON
jeaniron at sympatico.ca

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