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Project Descriptions - Censuses and Surveys

KFN Spring and Fall Roundups

Since 1960 for the Spring Roundup, and 1966 for the Fall Roundup, groups of members have taken part in competitions in May and November to find the most bird species within a 50 km radius of Kingston in a 24-hour period. These "roundups" are not only challenging, they are a lot of fun, and provide members with the opportunity to improve their birding skills and expand their knowledge of birding hot spots in the area. To top each roundup off, a pot-luck supper is held at a member's house, providing an opportunity to socialize, tally the results of our efforts, and award the Art Bell trophy to the team with the most species and the dreaded "Purple Vulture" trophy to the runner-up. The number of each species identified is also recorded, providing a snapshot of seasonal bird populations over a 40+-year period.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts

Throughout Canada, the United States, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and some Pacific islands, the Christmas Bird count obtains data on birds, providing valuable insights into the long-term health of avian populations and the environment. The first Ontario count commenced in 1900. KFN members organize and participate in five or six local National Audubon Society Christmas Counts, with results published in American Birds. Counts are held on one day within a three-week period around Christmas. Participants are organized into "parties" that count the number of each species seen within a 24-km diameter circle. The location of established count areas remains the same each year. Count data are used to measure long-term trends relating to winter bird distribution and abundance. There is a $5.00 fee for each participant to cover the cost of publishing the data.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

Red-shouldered Hawk and Woodpecker Surveys

As part of Long Point Bird Observatory's Ontario Birds at Risk (OBAR), KFN volunteers cover at least three (1996 had 73 registered routes in the Province), 20 km routes once near the end of April to monitor Red-shouldered Hawks and tally the calls of Pileated and other woodpeckers. The routes comprise 20 stops and 10 minutes at each stop in these areas: from the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary to Canoe Lake, Otty Lake, and Jones Falls area.

KFN contacts: Canoe Lake - Ron Weir; Otty Lake and Jones Falls - Sharon David

Mid-winter Waterfowl Inventories

Conducted for the Canadian Wildlife Service in early January, when waterfowl are most sedentary, throughout North America. Consult the Newsletter for the dates of the 2009 count.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

International Survey of Wintering Bald Eagles

St. Lawrence river from Wolfe Island to Brockville, including the Thousand Islands bridge area. Bald Eagles were found to be wintering in the Thousand Islands in the early eighties by Gerry Smith from Derby Hill, N.Y. He organized the government agencies in the United States and Canada to take an interest and invited the KFN to help out. In cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and several U.S. agencies, the club has been conducting ground surveys during January-February for the birds and their roosts since 1984. The number of birds has increased from one or two individuals to as many as thirty wintering in the area.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

Amphibian Call Counts

Organized in 1991 by the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada to monitor amphibian population trends. Two survey programs Road Call Counts and Backyard Surveys are used to estimate the abundance of frogs and toads based on their distinctive calls. Road Call Counts cover designated routes by car three evenings per spring (March to July) during which frogs and toads are surveyed at 10 three-minute stops, placed every 0.8 km. Backyard Surveys take place in or near backyards for three minutes every night from April to August.

KFN Contact: Gary Ure

Black Tern Surveys

Black Tern colonies are located in the marshes on the KFN property on Amherst Island and on the Lennox Generating Station property owned by Ontario Hydro, and these are surveyed annually in April-May by the KFN. The Lennox marsh has had approximately 150 pairs of terns. The Canadian Wildlife Service is interested in monitoring the Lennox property colony and is conducting egg counts and young bird counts. The KFN will undertake the Black Tern survey using funding from Ontario's Corporate Citizenship Program and we will receive a report on the results of the survey.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

Canadian Lakes Loon Survey

Initiated by the Long Point Bird Observatory in the early 1900s, is a long-term project designed to monitor the abundance and breeding success of Common Loons across Canada. Volunteers check lakes for loon presence and chick survival during the summer.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

Loggerhead Shrike Study

One of Ontario's rarest breeding bird species, the Loggerhead Shrike, is in great danger of extirpation. Habitat loss and degradation, and collisions with cars are among the major causes of the population decline. Every breeding season since 1991, a survey of shrike populations has been carried out. KFN member Chris Grooms conducted studies of Loggerhead Shrikes in the Napanee breeding core each summer from 1992 to 2004, and fellow KFN member Kurt Hennige is now responsible for this work. Most of the potential habitat near the core breeding areas has been mapped and classified and some spatial analysis has been performed on this data. Habitat preference and breeding success were studied. The Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Team is the official body concerned with the recovery of the shrike.

 shrike nest
Photos Copyright Chris Grooms

KFN contact: Kurt Hennige

Henslow's Sparrow Surveys

The Henslow's Sparrow is now found very sporadically throughout southern Ontario. The bird needs large areas of moist, old meadows and uncultivated farm land for nesting and breeding. Reforestation, intensive farming practices and urban sprawl have destroyed much of the habitat preferred by this bird. In 1993, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSWIC) designated the species as "endangered". Currently, researchers believe that fewer than five to ten pairs are breeding in Ontario. Birders reported only two active sites last summer.

Surveys by the KFN were conducted from 1981 to 1985 in the month of June and are now conducted occasionally. In June, 1996, two Henslow's Sparrows were sighted by Terry Sprague near his home on Big Island in Prince Edward County and in July, discussions between the MNR, the Ontario Field Ornithologists, and the owner of the land where the birds were seen, resulted in agreement to protect the area.

KFN contact: Ron Weir

Cerulean Warbler Monitoring Project

The Cerulean Warbler is thought to be one of the most threatened of North America's breeding warblers. Estimates derived from Breeding Bird Survey data show as much as a 3.4% decline per year from the years 1966-1987. Ceruleans appear to require mature, tall, floodplain forests, which are becoming increasingly fragmented by agriculture and urbanization. This exposes Ceruleans to increased nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds and nest predation, and extensive loss of habitat appears to be putting pressure on this species. Studies done in the Lake Opinicon region by members of the Queen's University Biology Department, have shown that this area appears to be home to a sizeable population of this rare species. In the spring of 1996, Jason Jones, of the Queen's Biology Department, expanded the previously established study sites and attempted to develop a broader picture of the distribution of the Cerulean Warbler in Eastern Ontario. One of these sites was the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary and the KFN granted Jason Jones permission to conduct surveys in the sanctuary. One of the goals of Jason's thesis work is to further public involvement in the efforts to conserve Cerulean Warblers and other rare or threatened bird species. To this end, the Cerulean Warbler Monitoring Project (CWMP) was formed. Volunteers with CWMP will be directly involved in the location and monitoring of Cerulean Warbler sub-populations in Eastern Ontario. There are three broad levels of involvement: submission of Cerulean sightings, occasional spring surveys, and extensive monitoring.

Contact:
  Cerulean Warbler Monitoring Project
  Department of Biology
  Queen's University
  Kingston, ON, K7L 3N6
  (613) 545-6140
  Fax: (613)545-6617

Canadian Wildlife Service Breeding Bird Survey

(BBS) is a major information source for population changes of terrestrial birds along roadsides in North America. In Ontario, the BBS began with three routes in 1967 and expanded to about 95 routes in 1995. Volunteers cover routes by car on one morning in June every year. Birds are identified by song or sight at 50 three-minute stops placed every 0.8 km. The BBS is coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Service, and in Ontario by the Long Point Bird Observatory.

Seasonal Migration Summary

Four of these summaries per year, one for each season, are prepared by the KFN Bird Records Chair and published in National Audubon Field Notes. More detailed seasonal summaries are published quarterly in the Blue Bill. Much of the information used to compile these summaries comes from the results of various field trips, our semi-annual roundups, Christmas counts and some of the surveys listed in this article. The seasonal migration picture would be incomplete, however, without the input of observations from KFN birders from their individual or group birding efforts. These observations are recorded on bird record card files which have been maintained for over 40 years by the Bird Records Committee. The file is the database for writing books, briefs, special submissions to wildlife/environmental agencies and articles such as the Seasonal Migration Summary. It is extremely important, therefore, that members send in their sightings to one of the contacts listed below, or record them via the KFN Information Line at 549-8023. See Blue Bill Vol. 44, No. 2, June, 1997, page 68 for more details.

KFN contacts: Joel Ellis, Ron Weir