Rocky Point Bird Observatory Migration Monitoring: Who, what, when, where and WHY

Why do we band birds? It’s simple: conservation.

Rocky Point Bird Observatory is part of an international effort to monitor landbird migration and has been a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN) since 2001. Members of the CMMN track the migration of Canada’s birds in the spring and fall each year, adding to our knowledge of population trends, demographics, phenology, and other essential information about the species that pass through each location.

RPBO’s bird monitoring projects are comprised of three types of monitoring: bird banding, general observation, and audio-visual census. Bird banding permits assessment of age, gender and condition of individual birds – information that cannot otherwise be obtained.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus ruber) were caught in record numbers in 2021 Photo Credit: David Bell

As well, recapture of individual banded birds gives us information on survival rates. Census and general observation information provide complementary data on abundance. All data collected in the course of our research are widely shared with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Bird Studies Canada, the Institute for Bird Populations and the US Geological Survey, where they are used to help establish population trends at the regional, national, and international levels.

The more we learn, the more we can understand about the needs of birds. And the better equipped we are to protect birds and the places they need to survive.

One of the ways that our donors support us is through endowment funds, such as the one held at the Victoria Foundation. RPBO has been in operation for 28 years, and the consistency of our data is extremely important. Our donors are creating a legacy that ensures we can continue to achieve our mission in the years to come. Thank you!

In 2021, 263,111 individual birds of 198 species were recorded over the course of the 2021 season

Migration Monitoring – July 21 to October 18, 2022

On October 18, 2022, RPBO will complete its 28th 90-day sampling period of autumnal landbird migration monitoring on Department of National Defense (DND) lands at Rocky Point.

In 2012 we began operating a second site at Pedder Bay Marina. This property is open to the public (unlike Rocky Point) and thus provides us with the opportunity for public education.  On October 18, 2022, RPBO will complete its 11th season at this location.

Objectives of the fall sampling effort include the collection of data that will allow:

  • The estimation of annual abundance and productivity indices,
  • The study of migration ecology of landbirds using Rocky Point and Pedder Bay, and
  • RPBO to contribute these data to national efforts to monitor landbird populations (CMMN).

These objectives are met through mist netting and observer surveys during the 90-day survey season. RPBO meets a fourth objective – raising public awareness about conservation issues facing migrant landbirds through public education and outreach. Public (volunteer) involvement has been a key component of RPBO’s data collection efforts over the past 28 years.

Banders-in-charge reports can be viewed on our Reports and Publications page.

In 2021, an incredible 115 volunteers donated 5504 hours of their time and experience between the stations throughout the season

Rocky Point Bird Observatory bird sightings

RPBO’s first Orchard Oriole (left, David Bell) and Common Grackle (centre bottom, David Bell), Pedder Bays first Tennessee Warbler (centre top, David Bell), and an “Eastern” Willow Flycatcher (right, Liam Singh).


Rocky Point Bird Observatory wishes to thank the Willard and Elva Dawson Fund, administered by the Victoria Foundation, for their support of this project. Combined with the generosity of our regular contributors, the grant we received means that RPBO can continue to gather data, which is used to monitor bird population trends, investigate declines, and recommend actions to protect the health of ecosystems on which we all depend.