Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wascana MAPS hoody & t-shirt

We are selling hoody's and t-shirts to help support and promote the Wascana MAPS program! Hoody's are dark grey with our Wascana MAPS logo and are $35, while the t-shirts are an olive-green colour with the Wascana MAPS logo on it for $20. 
All funds raised with these shirts will go to buying new mist nets, repairing old nets, buying new banding equipment as needed, and various other small needs to keep the program running. No funds will be used as payment to banders or anyone else - this will continue to be a completely volunteer run program.

The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship program is administered by the Institute of Bird Populations in California. The Wascana MAPS station is one of 500 stations in North America, and 1 of 4 now in Saskatchewan. I started the program in Wascana Marsh in 2010, while I was park Naturalist at Wascana Centre. When I left Wascana in the fall of 2013, I did not want to see the program end, so I took it on strictly as a volunteer. Besides assistance from Wascana's ecologist, I now rely solely on volunteers to help make this program a success. I am so grateful to so many people's commitment to bird conservation in Regina!

Our logo is of a Yellow Warbler, based off a photo of one of our long term volunteers, Kim Mann and created by Karen Kolkman of Annaheim, SK. The Yellow Warbler is the most regularly bird we catch, we have banded 696 at Wascana MAPS since 2010.

Some of the successes we have had since beginning in 2010 are:
  • 2319 individual birds have been banded at Wascana MAPS comprised of 49 different species! 
  • 113 of those birds have returned to Wascana Marsh in later years! 
  • Five birds captured in 2014, were originally banded in the Habitat Conservation Area in 2010, making some of those birds at least 6 years old! 
  • Wascana MAPS has the only banding record of a Sedge Wren in Saskatchewan's banding history and only the 3rd banding record of a Black-billed Cuckoo!
  • Our data is utilized by the Institute of Bird Populations in California to determine songbird population trends!
  • Our ongoing efforts are contributing to bird conservation across North America!
A male Yellow-headed Blackbird, captured at the Wascana MAPS station.

Check out #WascanaMAPS on twitter to see many of the species we have banded.

If you have never been to Wascana MAPS, I encourage you help us promote this program by ordering a shirt and showing your commitment to bird conservation!

To order a hoody or t-shirt, send me an email at clarkejared AT hotmail dot com. Our order will be placed at the end of March. 
A Nelson's Sparrow captured at the Wascana MAPS station.

Chasing Red Banded Geese!

In 2010, I started banding Canada Geese in Wascana Park with red plastic leg bands.  We had already started banding the geese the year before with the regular aluminum band most birds get banded with with, but the red bands are different in that you can read them from some distance away.  The colour bands simply have 3 large digits and a letter repeated around the band, whereas the aluminum band has 9 digits wrapped around it.
The original idea was we could identify birds within the park easier with the colour baands.  And it definitely worked.  In the following years, we collected a wealth of data on birds around the park.  What I was not expecting though, was the number of sightings I would receive of birds from outside of Wascana Park, and more specifically while the birds were on their wintering grounds.

In fact, it started with this photo here of M016.  We banded this male goose in 2009 with an aluminum band and then added the colour band in 2010.  This photo was taken in Pierre, South Dakota in December in 2010.  This would be the first of 23 different geese that were observed in Pierre that winter!

The man who had observed these first few geese would become a good friend, his name Scott.  Over the next few years, during the winter Scott would get out and make various rounds to record as many red bands as he could find of the Wascana geese.

In January 2014, I decided I had to go for a trip to Pierre, to finally meet Scott and see our geese on their wintering grounds.  So in February, 2014, Bob Ewart and I traveled down to Pierre.  It was really neat to see the geese we were so familiar with in Wascana Park in such a different but similar place.

What is difference in Pierre versus Regina, is the sheer number of geese.  Scott works for the South Dakota State Wildlife Branch.  He is responsible for doing many of the game surveys.  A few weeks before Bob and I arrived he did an aerial survey on the geese in and around Pierre and counted 100,000 Canada Geese!  Earlier that winter, while other geese were still moving through they counted 300,000!  Compare that to the current nesting population in Wascana park in 2014, around 430 nesting pair, or about 860 adult bird....

The birds spend a lot of their time at Capitol Lake, which is fed by a man made spring.  It stays open during the winter and many geese use it on cold days in Pierre during the winter.  We counted 10,000 on one of the mornings we were there and the lake was not full.
Another interesting thing we noticed in Pierre, was the birds are scattered throughout the city during the day and not restricted to the park like they are in Wascana.  Here they are a ways from the park on a soccer field.
And here are a few on someone's lawn!  You can see all three have red bands on their legs from Wascana Park. 

In addition, to our geese being seen in Pierre, we have received colour bands from a couple other states including Nebraska, and Kansas!

If you are someone who has seen a red colour banded goose, please ensure you report your observations to  Thank you for your sightings!!