Sea Duck Migration Monitoring – Point Lepreau Bird Observatory

Project Number: 103
Year Funded: 2008
Lead Institution(s): Saint John Naturalists Club
Project Lead: Jim Wilson
Location: New Brunswick
Focal Species: Common Eider (Somateria mollissima), Black Scoter (Melanitta americana), Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
Project Description: The Point Lepreau Bird Observatory (PLBO), a project of the Saint John Naturalists’ Club, had been monitoring spring migration of sea ducks annually through the Bay of Fundy for the previous 12 years to assess population trends. It amassed a significant amount of migration data on several key sea duck species and wanted to continue in 2008.

In spring the Bay funnels a significant proportion of the East Coast populations of Black and Surf Scoter and Common Eider (S. m.dresseri and S. m. borealis) past Point Lepreau. Situated at 45.06o N, 66.46o W, the Point is the most prominent finger of land jutting into the Bay on the mainland coast. There are lesser numbers of other sea ducks, including Eastern Harlequins.

These species breed in more northern latitudes and winter further south along the Atlantic seaboard. During spring migration the geography of the Bay of Fundy funnels large numbers of these birds past the observatory as they head north during a narrow six-week timeframe. This makes it a key location on the Atlantic Coast for migration data collection.

Various indicators suggest that several of these sea duck populations (scoters in particular) have been steadily declining over recent decades. A preliminary analysis of the PLBO data also suggests this trend, and we wanted to continue monitoring for a 13th year to avoid a gap in the data.

Another important aspect is that volunteers, making the data collection very cost-effective, put in many of the hours logged at the observatory.
Project Reports:
Sea Duck Migration Monitoring – Point Lepreau Bird Observatory