Bird Collectors | The press

Pierre Bannon and Suzanne Labbé “go to the birds” several times a week. Like many others in Quebec and around the world, these long-time bird watchers record their findings in their observation notebooks. Pierre Bannon also holds the Quebec record for observed species.

Posted at 11:30 p.m.

Pierre Gingras

Pierre Gingras
special cooperation

The star of the hour was passing by Gaspé. It was July 9th. Reading the message, Pierre Bannon and Suzanne Labbé became feverish. After quick preparations, they jumped into the car, drove almost 10 hours to sleep, exhausted, in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. Then, after a very short night and another stretch of road, they were finally able to admire the great fisherman on the banks of the York River. “It was extraordinary. There he was, perched on a tree in all its glory, looking at the salmon for food. Imagine, it was the first time that an emperor eagle was reported in Canada,” says Suzanne Labbé, still delighted with her adventure.


PHOTO SASCHA WENNINGER, FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Installed since the beginning of winter on the coast of Maine and Massachusetts, the emperor eagle observed last summer in the Gaspé was first reported in Alaska in August 2020, then in Texas in March 2021. The individual opposite was photographed in Japan.

If the stunning bird of prey in Russia or northern Japan is spectacular, it is not the only bird that has run the pair of bird watchers over the years. Of the 471 species already reported in Quebec, Pierre Bannon recorded 416 in his observation notebook. He is the record holder. His companion is 14 years oldi range with 383 species. Not to mention the few thousand observed abroad by the retired couple of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville. And even today, they “go to the birds” several times a week. “We could talk about a form of illness,” explains Pierre Bannon, laughing.

But it is above all a great love for birds, a spirit of discovery, an outdoor activity that becomes both a social gathering, a friendly competition, as well as a scientific contribution, as our observations are all collected in the eBird international database. It is very rewarding.

Pierre Bannon, amateur ornithologist

6059 species, 45 countries

Also retired, Réal Bisson worked for years as a naturalist. He is the most full-fledged notebook in the world: he is 54 years oldi rank. There are 6,059 names out of 10,624 in the species directory. So far he has visited 45 countries with his telescope and binoculars. “We’re a bit of a collector,” he says. At that time, the search for birds was done with pistols. They were killed to describe them, classify them, name them and build large collections of specimens, eggs, nests. Today, hundreds of thousands of fans gather their observations around the world and contribute in their own way to the evolution of science. »

  • One of the spectacular orange cocks-of-the-rock observed by Réal Brisson and Carolle Mathieu during a trip to Colombia

    PHOTO CERTIFIED BY CAROLLE MATHIEU

    One of the spectacular orange cocks-of-the-rock observed by Réal Brisson and Carolle Mathieu during a trip to Colombia

  • A timid high mountain species, this tragopan satyr was photographed in Bhutan during an ornithological trip by the Bisson-Mathieu couple.

    PHOTO CERTIFIED BY CAROLLE MATHIEU

    A timid high mountain species, this tragopan satyr was photographed in Bhutan during an ornithological trip by the Bisson-Mathieu couple.

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Before leaving with his partner for a new country, Réal Brisson studied the coveted species, their songs and their habitats for weeks.

From the first birds, it is the great rise of adrenaline, the joy of discovering new species, sometimes a hundred in a single day, the pleasure of sharing all these magical moments, even disappointments.

Réal Bisson, amateur ornithologist

In Papua New Guinea, he says he waited an hour in vain in a ravine to remove the leeches that went up to his legs. Mr. Bisson also acknowledges that it takes time and money to pay for these adventures. “It’s been a long time since I changed the cabin for birds. Everyone has their own pleasure. »

“A day without a bird is a lost day”

In the early 1940s, Samuel Denault, a biologist at a large engineering firm, says that at the age of 14 he discovered a pink seagull in the Chambly Basin, the first presence in Quebec for this species in the Far North. His enthusiasm has never wavered.

  • Originally from the southern United States, this beautiful red flycatcher was photographed last May in Laval.  This was the third mention of this bird in Quebec.

    PHOTO CERTIFIED BY SAMUEL DENAULT

    Originally from the southern United States, this beautiful red flycatcher was photographed last May in Laval. This was the third mention of this bird in Quebec.

  • Originally from the American West, this yellow-headed warbler is the only one photographed so far in Quebec.  It was in 2013, in Tadoussac.

    PHOTO CERTIFIED BY SAMUEL DENAULT

    Originally from the American West, this yellow-headed warbler is the only one photographed so far in Quebec. It was in 2013, in Tadoussac.

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When you discover a rare bird, especially if you are the first to see it, it gives you an incredible thrill.

Samuel Denault, amateur ornithologist

Mr. Denault ranks third in the number of species on his Quebec list, 413. For his part, Pierre Poulin, of Pabos, in the Gaspé, no longer knows how many ornithological trips he has made. , but his notebook has 5911 species. , which gives him the 60i world rank. “Some of these species lifted my hair from my arms, the excitement was so great. Today” it moves less, “he says. But whether in Quebec or anywhere else,” a day without watching birds is a day Lost”.

A matter of credibility

How to determine the credibility of an observation? “The vast majority of sightings are supported by photos,” says Suzanne Labbé, who is also an eBay reviewer. If the observer is alone, a number of relevant details will be needed before confirming his discovery. But a rare bird usually attracts many observers, leaving cheaters with little room for maneuver.

Places known in Quebec for their diversity of birds

Cap Tourmente National Reserve

312 species observed

Boucherville Islands

265 species observed

Marguerite-Youville Wildlife Refuge

249 species observed

Forillon National Park

246 species observed

Montreal Botanical Garden

211 species observed

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