Last Mountain Bird Observatory

Last Mountain Bird Observatory (LMBO) is located in the southeast corner of Last Mountain Regional Park, near the north end of Last Mountain Lake in south-central Saskatchewan. LMBO was established in 1989 as a charter member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network. Its purpose, and that of the approximately twenty other members of the network, is to monitor the numbers of forest-dwelling songbirds in Canada. Due to the lack of roads in most of Canada's northern forests, this group of birds is not easily monitored by a census on their breeding grounds, so the network was established to monitor the numbers, chronology, and migration ecology of birds as they migrate between their breeding and wintering grounds.

The monitoring method used at LMBO and other network stations is a combination of birds captured during systematic mist netting and birds seen during a daily census. Mist nets, made of fine mesh nylon, are strung between poles; a standard mist net is 2.5m high and 12m long, with a fine 30mm-mesh that is nearly invisible to birds. At LMBO, thirteen mist nets are operated in the same locations each year, and are opened from 7:00 a.m. To 1:00 p.m. each day of the spring and fall banding seasons. Spring banding is conducted from May 9 to May 31; fall banding is from August 3 to October 7.

Birds are quickly and safely removed from the nets and brought to the banding station for processing. For each bird captured, the species, age, sex, and a number of measurements are recorded. Before release, birds are banded with a uniquely numbered aluminum band; the band number and related information are forwarded to a central repository at the Canadian Wildlife Service in Ottawa. Since its establishment, almost 40,000 specimens of 114 species of birds have been captured and banded at LMBO. Although the major purpose of the establishment of the Observatory is the monitoring of songbird migration, public education is also an important component of its program. The public is welcome at the facility between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. during the spring and fall banding seasons.

Alan R. Smith