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Migration season arrives at the Tatlayoko Lake Bird Observatory

Banders returned at the beginning of August
An American kestrel. (Photo submitted)

Another season of migration monitoring at the Tatlayoko Lake Bird Observatory (TLBO) is upon us. At the beginning of August the bird banders will be back, clearing the trails and setting up the mistnets used to catch and band the migratory songbirds that call the valley home or use it on their southward migration.

This year Sachi Dell will be taking over the bander-in-charge position after four seasons as the assistant bander. Joining him will be Sachiko Schott, yes that’s right; there will be two Sachis at the TLBO this fall. At least that is one less name to remember when you visit. Sachiko spent last season at the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory in Alberta and she has banded birds at several other banding stations around Canada as well.

Early August is always interesting as the banders get to find out which species had a productive breeding season and which maybe struggled a little over the summer.

By the middle of the month, migration will be in full swing with the early migrating species joining up in mixed species flocks of a variety of warbler and flycatcher species along with the ubiquitous Warbling Vireos. As the temperatures start to cool and the leaves begin to drop from the trees the sparrows arrive, along with the other hardier migrants such as Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Pipits and finally the Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Come September, the banders add Owl banding to the repertoire. This entails going out for three hours on calm nights to catch and band the delightful little Northern Saw-whet Owls. This is always our most popular time for visitors, and with good reason.

As ever, the TLBO welcomes and encourages visitors for both our daytime banding and the owl banding. Drop-ins are welcome for the day-time banding but please get in touch with the banders to arrange a visit for the owl banding as they do not go out every night due to frequent poor weather (usually high winds). They can be reached by email at Daytime banding runs from Aug. 3 until Sept. 28, while Owl banding runs from Sept. 5 until Oct. 15.

The TLBO relies on donations to cover a portion of our costs and we are pleased and honoured to have several regular contributors within the valley.

All donations, big and small, make a difference and if you are interested in making a contribution you can do so in person at the bird observatory, by etransfer to or by sending a cheque to the Tatlayoko Field Station Society, Box 22, Tatlayoko Lake, V0L 1W0. Please remember to include “TLBO” in the memo for all donations.

We are also on the lookout for donations of a different kind: if you have excess folding, storable lawn chairs in good condition please get in touch. We hope to see you at the TLBO this fall.

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