Since its inception several years ago, BPQ have had a special relationship with the MBO.

Many members of BPQ volunteer there in assorted capacities while our charity provides financial support for some of their important projects.

Who and what is the MBO?

McGill Bird Observatory is a project of the Migration Research Foundation that has affiliations with McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. MBO operates a migration monitoring station on private, McGill-owned land located in the west end of Montreal, near the Macdonald Campus of McGill University. The station is road-accessible and open to the public by appointment.

Special Features:

Despite MBO’s landlocked location, about 200 species have been observed on site. About 10,000 birds representing 96 species were banded in the first two years of operation, further suggesting that it is an important migratory stopover site for passerines. MBO is part of the Senneville Migratory Bird Sanctuary, is directly adjacent to the Morgan Arboretum (at 245 ha, the largest of its kind in Canada), and is near other large green spaces such as Bois-de-la-Roche and the Anse-a-l’Orme river corridor.


Between 1995 and 2003, McGill University ornithology students and various wildlife workshops utilized a section of the Stoneycroft Wildlife Area (now the McGill Bird Observatory) for occasional banding activities in both spring and fall. The results of these limited banding efforts suggested that this area could be productive for a passerine banding operation. In August 2004, volunteers restored an old cabin on the Stoneycroft property, which now serves as the MBO banding station. Also in 2004, volunteers established a census route, cleared a series of net lanes, and developed a standardized operating protocol. The McGill Bird Observatory was accepted as a Provisional Member of the CMMN-RCSM in 2006 and became a Full Member in 2009.

Migration monitoring:

The standard migration monitoring at MBO consists of 5 hours of banding each day, a standardized one-hour census walk around the property one hour after sunrise, and continuous observation of all birds throughout the observation period (6 hours per day). Birds are captured primarily using mist nets. A Jay trap was installed in 2006, but is not part of standard operations. Daily estimated totals are compiled at the end of each observation period, as the sum of all individuals counted throughout the day through banding, census, and observation, minus obvious repeats of the same individuals. Spring migration census coverage runs from March 28 through June 5, with banding coverage from April 18 to June 2. Fall migration banding and census coverage runs from August 1 through October 30. Spring and fall count data have been collected annually since 2004, and have been standardized since spring 2006.

Other projects:

The primary emphasis at MBO is on passerine migration monitoring. However, many projects have either become part of migration monitoring, or are very closely associated with it:

  • Owl banding efforts targeting Northern Saw-whet Owl and Boreal Owl using a standardized audio lure technique, as promoted by Project Owlnet
  • Winter banding is undertaken to study residency patterns and northern migrants using a small number of nets around a bird feeding station close to the station
  • Several undergraduate students from McGill have undertaken a variety of research projects concerning banding methodologies, results, and trend analyses.
  • A Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship station (MAPS)
  • The first passerine ageing and sexing workshop was offered in fall 2006 with two others offered in following years, including a workshop led by Peter Pyle

Volunteer opportunities:

MBO is run almost entirely by volunteers. Volunteers from local community groups such as Bird Protection Quebec have been invaluable to MBO’s success, providing hundreds of hours annually towards site maintenance, census, and bird observations. On-site accommodation is not currently available, though camping is allowed. Onsite accommodation is not currently available

For more information:


Contact Person:
Gay Gruner


Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 82, Succ. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue,
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3L4