McGill Bird Observatory offers conferences on different topics to ornithology and naturalist clubs, schools and during public events. Abstracts of the conferences we offer at the moment are posted below. To schedule a conference, contact us at

Current presentations

A Drift of Buntings

Who has not pulled their car over to watch loose flocks of buntings glide across open fields, their flight giving rise to the species’ colloquial name of snowflake? In North America, the Snow Bunting breeds in the Arctic, but winters in the balmy climate of southern Canada. In this conference, we’ll look at nesting behaviour, physiology, plumage changes, habitat and range of the Snow Bunting, and introduce the research of the Canadian Snow Bunting Network. We have collaborated on this project since the winter 2011-2012 and already have some interesting data to share with you. 

10 years of migration monitoring; highlights of MBO’s first decade

McGill Bird Observatory (MBO) was launched as a pilot project in August 2004 by a small team of graduate students from McGill’s Natural Resource Sciences program, assisted by a few BPQ members. Little did anyone realize at the time how successful the program would become. Spring and fall migration monitoring programs have been standardized since 2005, and along the way summer and winter research projects were added and the capacity of the Northern Saw-whet Owl migration program was expanded. Despite open water being limited to small ponds, the site checklist has grown to 209 species; perhaps more impressively, 115 of these have been banded. MBO’s 50,000th bird was banded in October 2014, and the annual average of over 5,000 individuals banded ranks among the top handful of migration monitoring locations in Canada. Along the way, MBO banders have trained hundreds of volunteers, learned new details about countless species, and generated ever more questions to keep us busy well into the future! This presentation will highlight key results from MBO’s new ten-year report, and provide a sneak peek of what lies ahead.


Past presentations


McGill Bird Observatory: from humble beginnings to partnering with a national organization

MBO was established in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec in 2004, with standardized spring and fall migration monitoring programs beginning in 2005. While MBO’s long‐term goals focus on contributing to population monitoring as part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, efforts to date have already generated some noteworthy findings. Since 2005, research at McGill Bird Observatory (MBO) has followed the same protocols, over a period of 10 weeks each spring and 13 weeks each fall. While the main priority has been to collect data in support of long-term population monitoring of boreal species, MBO’s activities have diversified to include bander training, public education, and species-specific research projects on advanced identification and behavioural ecology. This conference will give you a brief review of its MBO’s history and accomplishments and a quiz-based look at the birds that make the station so special.