It's Been a Long Winter

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Written by Sarah Yates
Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Sarah YatesIt’s been a long winter up here in northern Maine and an even longer winter in Manitoba this year. At this time last year I was already surveying southern Saskatchewan as Phil Thorpe’s observer (best observer he’s ever had). It was one of the earliest springs they’d had in in more than fifty years. This year, we are predicting one of the latest starts to the survey. I believe, according to Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) ground crew leader Marc Shuster, May 13th is the latest start date on record in southern Manitoba. This year, a May 12th start is anticipated, but it may be later. So we may tie or surpass the record. I’ve attached a picture of snow cover in Manitoba on April 27th, the landscape still covered in a foot or more of snow (Figure1). I’ve also attached a recent photo of snow cover from May 8th (Figure 2). According to multiple CWS sources scattered throughout the prairies, they are a month behind schedule northeast of Saskatoon, with an abundance of arctic birds still passing through (JM Devink, CWS). I was planning on leaving from Maine with John Bidwell (retired Biologist-Pilot) today, May 8th. However, we’ve been delayed again due to survey logistics. For now, I wait for the word.

Snow cover in the Prairies, April 27, 2013.

Snow cover in the Prairies, April 27, 2013. Photo by Sarah Yates, US FWS via

Snow cover in the prairies, May 8, 2013.

Snow cover in the prairies, May 8, 2013 Photo by Sarah Yates, US FWS via