Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding

General Overview – Volume 4: Shorebirds, 1921–1995.
(Dunn et al., 2010)

Volume 4: Shorebirds, 1921–1995 pdf

There are 47 species covered by this volume (full listing in Species Search). Of these, 32 had at least one record of an encounter more than 100 km from the site of banding, thereby meriting a full species acco"

For the species covered in this volume, there were 164 855 individuals banded in Canada from 1955 through 1995. Of these, 1 579 were later encountered, for an overall encounter rate of 1%. However, this rate includes 12 species for which there were no encounters at all — primarily species that were banded in only small numbers, such as Snowy Plover, Black Turnstone, Surfbird and Rock Sandpiper — but also Wilson’s Phararope, with over 1000 banded. Highest encounter rates were for two hunted species (Wilson’s Snipe and American Woodcock, with encounter rates of 2.4% and 6.1%, respectively), and for Whimbrel, whose 7.6% encounter rate was largely the result of intensive banding and recapture in a breeding study. Encounter rates reported here are based on reports of metal bands, but relatively high proportions of shorebirds are given auxiliary marks such as colour bands or feather dyes, which has contributed numerous sight records that are not included in this volume.

In general, band encounter rates are related to bidy size. As one would expect, shorebirds are more commonly encountered than most songbirds, but less often than larger-bodied raptors and seabirds (Brewer et al. 2000, Dunn et al. 2009, Gaston et al. 2009). Shorebird encounters are relatively common in Latin America, compared to birds of other types, as shorebirds are often hunted for food.

Banding effort for most of the species covered here has remained relatively steady over time, with the exception of increasing effort for several Calidris sandpipers that have become model species for detailed study of migration. Indeed, 72% of all shorebirds banded in Canada from 1955–1995 were made up of only three species: Semipalmated, Western and Least Sandpipers — with Semipalmated Sandpiper alone making up 55% of the total.

In addition to the 1579 encounters of shorebirds banded in Canada between 1955 and 1995, this volume includes 54 encounters of birds banded between 1921 and 1955, and another 212 records for birds banded from 1921–1995 in other countries but encountered in Canada. Most of the latter represent birds banded in the United States, for which we have complete records. There are also many Canada–Europe exchanges, however, and despite modest efforts to obtain details from other banding schemes, it is likely that some such records have been missed.

Temperate-breeding shorebirds tend to be relatively short-distance migrants, but the many Arcticbreeding species are among the champion migrants of all birds, with different breeding populations from Canada moving to wintering areas in Latin America, Europe/North Africa or Southeast Asia — often via transoceanic flights. Intensive study of shorebird migration has advanced our knowledge of migration physiology, energetics and orientation (Harrington et al. 2002). These birds have special adaptations for long-distance migration, including reduction of internal organs, increase in size flight muscles, and heavy storage of fat to fuel their highly efficient flight. Shorebirds also tend to concentrate in relatively small, highly productive areas during migration, making them vulnerable to habitat loss, and they cross borders of numerous countries (even continents) during their travels, making it a challenge to coordinate conservation efforts.

As with seabirds, a high proportion of shorebird banding has been carried out by government biologists and academic researchers, often working in remote breeding areas or doing studies at migration stopover sites. Nonetheless, some bird observatories and individual banders appear on the lists of top five banders for each species, even though they usually do not capture many, simply because banding effort has been limited to few localities. With 29 species accounts listing the top five banders for each, there was potential for 145 different names to appear. The actual number is only 55, as many names appear on several species’ lists. Indeed, 69% of all shorebird banding in Canada during the study period was done under only four permits, and R.I.G. Morrison, of Environment Canada, was responsible for 34% of the total. His name appears as the number one bander for 10 of the 29 species, with a lower rank for an additional 9.

The maximum distance between banding and encounter location of any individual of a species included in this volume was attained by a Red Knot that moved 11 383 km from its breeding grounds in Nunavut to a site in southern Brazil where it was recaptured five years later. Falling only slightly short of this record was a Hudsonian Godwit banded as a chick at Churchill, Manitoba, and reported a year later 11 128 km away, in Argentina. The oldest individual in the data set was a Least Sandpiper banded as a chick on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and found nesting there 15 years later.

Volume 4 should be cited as:

Dunn, E. H., A. D. Brewer, A. W. Diamond, E. J. Woodsworth, and B. T. Collins. 2010. Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding, Volume 4: Shorebirds, 1921-1995. Canadian Wildlife Service Special Publication. Available from Environment Canada.

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