James Bay Shorebird Project 2016 - page 4 of 7


Motus Tracking System and Invertebrates

The nanotag transmitter on the back of this shorebird has revolutionized our knowledge of the migration of many species of shorebirds, especially smaller ones. The nanotag emits a unique signal that will be picked up by an array of receiving towers across southern James Bay, the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, parts of the Arctic, and the east coast of Canada and the United States. Recently, Panama, some countries in South America, and other locations have added towers. Now we will learn more about the timing of migration, the route taken, and length of stay at locations on the migration route and on the breeding and wintering grounds. Target species in the 2016 James Bay Shorebird Project for nanotags and resighting are: Red Knot, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit and Dunlin.


Amie (left) and Kathryn affix a nanotag to the rump of this Semipalmated Plover. Nanotag will fall off after about 3 months.



This adult White-rumped Sandpiper carries a nanotag, which will show how long it stays on the James Bay coast, when it leaves, and its southbound migration route. The banding crew have quotas for putting nanotags on adults and juveniles of key species, including: Red Knot, Dunlin, White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Hudsonian Godwit.


Motus tracking tower on Longridge has a radius of about 15 km for tracking shorebirds with nano-tags - see location on map on page 1. The tower also has a weather station recording temperature, pressure, wind, precipitation and more, all things that just a few years ago were done manually. The contact sounds are recorded in an instrument at the base of the tower and will be analyzed later as to species.


Motus Links

See 2014 movements of nano-tagged White-rumped and Semipalmated Sandpipers here: www.motus.org click on explore data - view tracks. One map for White-rumped Sandpipers and Semipalmated Sandpipers during their 2014 fall migration between James Bay stopover sites and the East Coast, another for Red Knots moving from the East Coast to Hudson Bay coast and Nunavut during the spring migration and coming back during the fall migration. Also One-night migratory flight of  White-rumped, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Red Knots from James Bay in 2015. See also map of receiver tower locations: http://motus.org/data/receiversMap.jsp  Stu Mackenzie provided this info.


Kathryn and Dan weigh a shorebird.


Two differently marked Semipalmated Plovers indicate different sexes and ages. Adult male on left. The white flag indicates it was flagged in Canada. Each flag with its unique alpha-numeric code may be spotted by birders and researchers, and provides valuable information about migration routes, staging and wintering areas


Banding crew at work: Kathryn, Dan, Allie and Amie. Felicia was on net watch.



Felicia worked with the banding team.

Allie collected many invertebrate samples


Invertebrate Sampling

Shorebirds on James Bays feed on the abundant larvae of the bivalve Macoma balthica (clam), and in southern James Bay, the gastropod Hydrobia minuta (snail), as well as a variety of crustaceans (shrimps/crabs and relatives), worms and dipteran (fly) larvae (Ontario Shorebird Conservation Plan 2003). James Bay shorebirds are apparently not eating biofilm or "slime mud" as in some other areas (fide Allie Anderson). Biofilm is a thin layer of nutritious slime on mudflats.

In this tray is an adult Macoma Balthica clam with very young Macoma Balthica where the shell isn't hard as on adults. This is a favourite food of Red Knots. (fide Allie Anderson). 2 August 2016. See size comparison with human nail.


This shrimp-like amphipod is often found at waterline and is a favourite food of Dunlin (fide Allie Anderson). Allie's research will examine the diet of shorebirds and food resources available in the smaller and larger coastal habitats. She would like to compare historical weights of adults and juvenile shorebirds and look at length of stay on the James Bay coast.


End of page 4. Please go to page 5