Pelee Island is a significant stopover site for many migrating “Species of Interest,” and PIBO’s field station, situated at Fish Point at the south tip of the island, is an ideal location for monitoring them.

In 2022, the observatory begins its 20th year of migration monitoring. Each morning from early April to June, and from August to November, PIBO staff conduct a standardized visual count of migrants passing through Fish Point. On the paths around the banding station, they capture migrants in mist nests and take them back to the station for banding. The number of individuals of each species in the official ‘count area’ is recorded on a daily basis; these Daily Totals (DT) are submitted to the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network for analysis.

The Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN) oversees bird migration studies in Canada. A 20-year collaboration of bird observatories across Canada, Birds Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Migration Monitoring Network gathers vital long-term information on bird demographics and population trends for more than 200 bird species.

Chestnut-sided warbler breeds in northern Ontario | Photo by Paul Jones

Greater yellowlegs, on its way to the far north | Photo by Paul Jones

PIBO is part of this network, which includes some twenty-five independent bird observatories across the country. Each observatory generates daily migration ‘counts’ for a large number of species. The data they collect not only contributes significantly to our understanding of the changes taking place in populations of migratory birds throughout Canada, but also documents migration at the sites themselves. PIBO’s Migration Summaries — as many as twenty-two a year and going back to 2007 — are a fascinating glimpse into the migrants that have passed over or stopped to refuel and rest on Pelee Island.

PIBO is also part of the Marsh Monitoring Project (MMP) developed by Birds Canada to monitor the health of coastal and inland marshes and the wildlife they support. Wetlands are among Canada’s most threatened ecosystems, and the data collected contributes to understanding wetlands better—which in turn leads to more effective and timely conservation.

PIBO staff and volunteers observe the marshes on Pelee Island through the spring and summer, recording information about marsh birds and their individual habitats. This survey information helps track long-term trends in species diversity, and guides marsh conservation, restoration, and management programs that ensure the survival of marsh birds.  

PIBO Field Supervisor Sumiko Onishi, collecting data for the MMP, 2023.
Photo by Danielle Lacasse.