Our appreciation to Paul Jones, Mike V.A. Burrell, Richard K. Cooper, Sumiko Onishi and all the bird photographers who shared their work in these pages.
WELCOME TO THE PELEE ISLAND BIRD OBSERVATORY
The Pelee Island Bird Observatory (PIBO) is uniquely situated on the most southerly island in Canada, nestled in the western arc of Lake Erie, between the mainlands of Ohio and Ontario, but most importantly, in the path of two major migratory flyways for songbirds that winter in Central and South America and breed in Ontario. Among PIBO’s many research and outreach projects, PIBO conducts annual migration counts and bird banding. We also monitor the island’s significant breeding bird communities. Our online newsletter, The Auspice, provides migration summaries, records unusual bird sightings, bird population declines, and other birding news. And our downloadable bird checklist highlights the impressive range of birds that visit Pelee Island, including several Species at Risk and those that have limited breeding ranges in Ontario. Find out more about Who We Are and What We Do—and what YOU can do to help protect birds and bird habitat in southeastern Ontario
November 28 is Giving Tuesday, and PIBO is offering three ways for our supporters to help us continue our important migration-monitoring and bird-banding work on Pelee Island.
Please visit our Giving Tuesday page to see how you can become a PIBO donor.
Of course, we’re happy to receive your donations through to the end of the year. Consider supporting our efforts through Canada Helps: www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/pelee-island-bird-observatory
Wow! What Was That?
White-faced ibis and Willow ptarmigan top the list of new species seen on Pelee Island this year. Please see our “Unusual sightings” for the nine other species never before seen on the island that visited us in May and June.
And for a full account of the birds banded and observed by our staff on Pelee Island during the Spring and Fall seasons, please see Migration Summaries.
Photo: Common raven with catch of the day. Photo by Richard Cooper.
Bird Man on Campus
As part of its Bird Friendly City commitment, PIBO has hired a University of Windsor Campus Organizer to help make the university’s campus a safer place for birds.
Rahi Ahmed, a first-year Computer Science student, will be working with PIBO staff and the U of W’s Sustainability Office to ensure that university faculty and students are aware of the difficulties faced by migrating birds when confronting lighted buildings at night, and of the need for trees and shrubs on campus grounds.
PIBO was able to hire Rahi thanks to a grant from Nature Canada’s Work to Grow program. He’ll be part of PIBO’s team until February 19, 2024.
Bidding for the Birds
The 2023 PIBO Online Auction was a tremendous success. Thanks to our very generous donors and bidders, we auctioned 87 spectacular items and raised more than $40,000 in support of PIBO’s ongoing efforts to monitor migrating and breeding birds on Pelee Island.
Thank you, thank you. We at PIBO are grateful for your tremendous generosity and support. And the birds thank you, too!
(Photo: ‘Young Osprey Taking Flight’ by Richard Cooper)
Did You Know?
It has been thought that migrating birds burn mostly fat during their long-distance flights, but a recent study at the Advanced Facility for Avian Research (AFAR) at Western University shows a different scenario.
A team led by Cory Elowe, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, measured the fat content and muscle mass of 20 Blackpoll warblers and 44 Yellow-rumped warblers netted at the Long Island Bird Observatory, then placed the birds in AFAR’s wind tunnel, where they flew for up to 28 hours without stopping to rest. When the birds finally rested, the researchers remeasured them. “Every bird still had plenty of fat left,” says Elowe, “but their muscles were emaciated. Protein, not fat, seems to be the limiting factor in determining how far birds can fly.”
The researchers are now trying to determine how birds can rebuild muscle mass in just a few hours in order to resume their migratory flights.
Work With Us!
Every year PIBO hires an Assistant Field Biologist and welcomes Volunteers to work with our field staff on Pelee Island.
We run a variety of important projects on the island, including bird banding (this year we banded nearly 2,800 birds between May and October), breeding bird studies, migration monitoring, and Purple martin research.
If you are interested in being a volunteer with PIBO, find out more:
New and Noteworthy
PIBO Donates Binoculars in Mexico
This spring, PIBO’s Graeme Gibson Prismaticos Project nine pairs of donated binoculars to environmental workers and forest rangers in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.
“We desperately need this equipment,” says Maru Mendiola, one of the recipients and a worker at the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. “It has been extremely difficult to undertake our monitoring and educational activities without them. Now, we can train future generations to restore and protect this unique habitat.”
Prismaticos Project coordinator Rodrigo Lopez, right, presents binoculars to a volunteer guardabosque at the Sierra de los Agustinos Reserve in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.
Photo credit: Merilyn Simonds