Friday, April 06, 2007

New Blog Address

Please go to Ruthven Park Nature Blog, this website's replacement, by clicking this link.

The URL is

Thanks for your interest!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Comments on the beehive at Ruthven

Regarding the beehive mentioned in a previous post:

Three local beekeepers have looked at the honeycomb and agree that there is almost certainly a thriving colony inhabiting similar honeycomb inside the tree. The comb you see is probably overflow and was built because the bees had run out of room in the tree. No bee colony could survive a Canadian winter unprotected in external comb like this.

It is quite possible that predators such as racoons might find the comb and destroy it to get at any honey, however this would only be likely during the winter while the bees are semi-dormant inside the tree. Once the weather warms up the bees will keep predators at bay. Only bears seem to be able to successfully raid an active bee hive.

We expect that the colony will re-emerge next spring and probably continue to use this external comb as well as the main part of the hive inside the tree..

Bee colonies throughout the world inhabit cavities. The classic man-made beehive is an adaptation of a natural cavity and is designed to harness the bees natural tendency to keep expanding the size of the colony and storing honey. The beekeeper harvests excess honey leaving the bees enough food to survive the winter.

-Peter Thoem

Saturday, December 16, 2006

John Miles

We are sad to annouce that on December 13th, 2006, John Miles, head bander at HBO's Selkirk banding station, passed away at the West Haldimand Hospital in Hagerville, ON.

The arrangements for John are in the Friday December 15th Hamilton Spectator. Visitation will be at Cooper Funderal Home Sunday 2-4, 7-9, Cooper Funeral home 19 Talbot St W, Jarvis. Funeral service, Monday 10 am Cooper funeral home.

There has been a series of emails circulating, written by some of the many people who had the opporunity to enjoy John's company, learn from him, and experience his passion for birding (and banding). I have posted these emails below, and encourage you to read them, as they provide some understanding of the great work that John did as a bird bander, and the great human being that he was.

I will continue to post any emails that I get about John, so check back for updates to this list. If you would like to say something about John through the blog, email it to . Also, we would love to see some pictures of John at work banding birds. If anyone has them, please send them to the email address above and I'll post them on this blog.

Beginning with the announcement from Nancy Furber:

  • Hello, our computer has been down for the past two days and I was unable to contact anyone. Now, it is with great sadness that I need to share that John Miles passed away yesterday evening - December 13, 2006. His transfer to Norfolk General Hospital, Simcoe was delayed (possibly to a bed shortage) so he was still at the West Haldimand Hospital, Hagersville. We wish to extend condolences to his family and friends with the loss of a wonderful gentleman. His presence will be greatly missed. Nancy Furber

  • Yes, it is a very sad thing.The very first "organized" birding hike I ever went on (as an early teenager) was lead by John - I learned how to discriminate among the "confusing fall warblers" under his tutelage.He had an amazing memory for birds, birding, birders and banding. He could recount the date and year of rarity sightings; he could remember how many birds of which species in which season he had banded; his knowledge of bird lore was encyclopedic. And he was very willing to share it with any one who had an interest.He had a tremendous drive and energy for banding. He would, in some seasons, start Spring banding in late February and end in mid-June only to start up the Fall season in mid-July and run through to mid-November in order that any migrant that could be banded was banded. This regimen entailed so many very early mornings, a long walk into his banding site (at Selkirk) and out again, and then afternoons and evenings of entering the data. Day after day, year after year. It's hard to appreciate this level of commitment without having done it.He was a major collaborator in the formation and development of Haldimand Bird Observatory (HBO). The organization benefited from his wide knowledge of other organziations with which he'd been involved, and from his fund-raising efforts - he was a major money-raiser through the Baillie Birdathon initiative.I will always picture John taking a break at the picnic table having processed a batch of birds and looking forward with that anticipatory eagerness in his eyes to the nets filling again. He could never get enough. Rick Ludkin

  • John was a good friend, a willing ear, and never hesitated to offer additional information. At a meeting last night, I was asked a historical Long Point question and my first thought was "I'll email John and find out". Sadly, those days are gone and I will miss him. Cindy Cartwright

  • This is such sad news - I visited John's banding site on several occasionswhen I was in Toronto for work. He was such a nice old boy and he gave me myfirst opportunity to band a Northern Saw-Whet Owl - I arrived at the stationa little before dawn and went in to John's trailer to find a bird bag on apeg - he handed it to me and said 'present for you' - I heard it snapping inthe bag and knew what it was - he was just a really nice guy and I'll neverforget him banding with a bird in one hand and a cigarette in the other!! -he was just such a character. This is as sad news for Canadian banders aswhen Chris Meade died for English banders - they just don't make them like those guys any more!!Another reminder to make the most of every day and to really enjoy ever bird- Happy winter banding! Derek J. Matthews - Vancouver, B.C. Canada

  • John Miles was a caring, and sharing individual, and just a really nice guy. I'm sorry to see him go. Allen Chartier

  • I feel so bad about John's passing. He was unique in his passion for banding. I think if the fall season had been longer, he still might be with us! He and I used to compare notes between Braddock Bay and Selkirk and he was always quick to point out any misconceptions I had about Canadian geography or Canadian banders! I will really miss him. Betsy Brooks.

  • We regret to inform you that we lost a friend yesterday and our profession lost a dedicated Field Ornithologist and mentor to many. John Miles contracted pneumonia after enjoying his most successful fall season. John was an old fashioned field biologist who did evrything the proper way and was on site in order to be open a half hour before sunrise every possible day during the migration - despite having a 45 minute commute to get there. His professional ethics and sharing of knowledge will stand as a shining example for us all. John had been in a local Ontario hospital since shortly after the fall season and was not doing well; he was anticipating transfer to a larger facility. Today we received the following:

    Hello, our computer has been down for the past two days and I was unable to contact anyone. Now, it is with great sadness that I need to share that John Miles passed away yesterday evening - December 13, 2006. His transfer to Norfolk General Hospital, Simcoe was delayed (possibly to a bed shortage) so he was still at the West Haldimand Hospital, Hagersville.
    We wish to extend condolences to his family and friends with the loss of a wonderful gentleman. His presence will be greatly missed. Nancy Furber

    John will be greatly missed as both friend and colleague! He was so proud of this season's accomplishments and we are happy that he went on such a happy, personal high.

    John & Sue Gregoire Field Ornithologists Kestrel Haven Avian Migration Observatory
  • I was shocked when I found out that John Miles had passed away. I learned of it from the latest BSC Newsletter that I looked at this sunday morning.. I was thinking about him the other day . John and I go back a long way to the Hamilton Junior Naturalist's Club in the late '50s. I did some banding under John's leadership in the 60's at Long Point. We will miss his birding and banding expertise. Ted Dinniwell

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Honeybee hive at Ruthven

Here are some pictures of a large honeybee hive that was recently found on Ruthven's property. Quite phenomenal.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Selkirk Northern Saw-whet Owl Recovery

A Northern Saw-whet Owl 0924-03603 banded at Selkirk as a Hatch-year Female on October 26/2004 was recovered near Sudbury, Massachesetts (422-0711) October 30, 2006.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Dry Lake fall banding results

Dry Lake operates as a "backyard " operation, after work and on weekends/holidays when time is available. The location is extremely good for migrants, nesting and wintering birds. The station operator is a sub under John Miles and the results are included in the Haldimand Bird Observatory totals.

Several good birds were seen or banded there this fall. A Western Kingbird was present for a couple of days around Sept, 14th and see by many twitchers. Noteworthy bandings included 1 Olive-sided Flycatcher, 3 Brewster's Warblers, 3 Nortern Saw-whet Owls, 6 Rusty Blackbirds.
The following results are prelimiary subject to correction once the band manager inputting is checked. But 72 species plus 1 form of 940 birds is nothing to sneeze at.

Top 10 banded

Gray Catbird 125
White-throated Sparrow 91
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 78
American Goldfinch 64
American Robin 49
Baltimore Oriole 29
Song Sparow 27
Chipping Sparrow 25
Traill's Flycatcher 24
Yellow Warbler 24

John Miles

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Anti-vehicle Ditches

In an effort to reduce ATV incursions into Ruthven Park property the Lower Grand River Land Trust has built a series of anti-vehicle ditches. Stewardship Committee member Carol Desoer demonstrates their effectiveness.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Selkirk's final banding days in Fall 2006

Selkirk's tenative fall banding season totals

The Selkirk Provincial Park's field station of the Haldiamnd Bird Observatory operated from July 6 through to November 12 for a total of 102 days, 78% coverage was provided. 3883 birds of 85 species were banded. The individual total is the station's best banding season. The 85 species is the station's 2nd lowest total since fall coverage started in 1998.

The following is a preliminary listing of the birds banded pending checking ot the Band Manager inputting. Some minor switches have been know to occur.

From the AOU number order:

Morning Dove 45 (best fall)
Sharp-shinned Hawk 16
N. Saw-whet Owl 4
Black-billed Cuckoo 2
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 31 (best banding season)
Yellow-shafted Flicker 3
Great-crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Phoebe 12 (best banding season)
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
Eastern Wood Pewee 6
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 9
Traill's Flycatcher 15
Least Flycatcher 12
Blue Jay 38
Brown-headed Cowbird 12
Red-winged Blackbird 16
Baltimore Oriole 33
Common Grackle 5
American Goldfinch 139 (best fall)
E. White-crowned Sparrow 7
White-throated Sparrow 143
American Tree Sparrow 8
Chipping Sparrow 2
Field Sparrow 1
Slate-colored Junco 371
Song Sparrow 123
Lincoln's Sparrow 3
Swamp Sparrow 13
Fox Sparrow 22
Eastern Towhee 2
Northern Cardinal 29
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 20
Indigo Bunting 11
Scarlet Tanager 1
Tree Swallow 5
N. Rough-winged Swallow 2
Cedar Waxwing 62 (new banding season high)
Red-eyed Vireo 52 (new banding sesson high)
Philadelphia Vireo 4 (new banding season high)
Warbling Vireo 7 ( ties previous best banding season high)
Blue-headed Vireo 20 (ties previous best banding season high)
Black-and-white Warbler 22
Lawrence's Warbler 1 (ties previous best banding season high)
Nashville Warbler 76
Orange-crowned Warbler 6
Tenneessee Warbler 13
Northern Parula 1
Cape May Warbler 4
Yellow Warbler 90
Black-throated Blue Warbler 45
Myrtle Warbler 111
Magnolia Warbler 168
Chestnut-sided Warbler 12
Bay-breasted Warbler 1
Blackpoll Warbler 14
Blackburnian Warbler 5
Black-throated Green Warbler 9
Pine Warbler 2
W. Palm Warbler 11
Ovenbird 48
Northern Waterthrush 5
Mourning Warbler 5
Common Yellowthroat 50 (new fall high)
Wilson's Warbler 10
Canada Warbler 7
American Redstart 70 (new banding season high)
Gray Catbird 94 (new fall high)
Brown Thrasher 4
Carolina Wren 1
House Wren 25
Winter Wren 19
Brown Creeper 88 (new banding season high)
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 13
E. Tufted Titmouse 2
Black-capped Chickadee 70
Golden-crowned Kinglet 662 (new banding seasson high)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 518
Wood Thrush 1
Veery 6
Grey-cheeked Thrush 24
Grey-cheeked/Bicknell's Thrush 1
Swainson's Thrush 52
Hermit Thrush 82
American Robin 122 (new banding season high)

November 12th

We closed the station down for the season today. Hopefully Selkirk will be up and running sometime in mid/late March next spring.

Closed down with a pretty decent day which should make this fall's the best fall ever Selkirk. The running total in the log book is 3871 but this may be about 10 birds light to what Band manager's total may end up at. The species total in the mid 80's is low but that is the way it is.

Banded: NSWO 2, DOWO 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 7, RCKI 1 (female), HETH 1, COYE 1, ATSP 1, WTSP 2, SCJU 7, AMGO 4 = 28


November 11th

There was about a 5 hour window this morning that we took advanage of and did some banding. Not much a round compared to most days over the past 40 days or so. Banding totals more in line with what I would have expected at this time of the year. Variety but not numbers. The RCKI was another female for those at Ruthven to ponder over.

Banded BCCH 1, GCKI 2, RCKI 1, HETH 1, NOCA 1, WTSP 1 =7

FTD 3843 (best fall 3850!!!) Rick as you predicted Selkirk may make a new banding season high this fall. Over 400 birds banded at Selkirk so far this November, unbelievable.


November 10th

I was off to a funeral today but the crew reported a very good day for the middle of November. Apparently the diurnal flight was something else. Over 40,000 Redwings alone were recorded going over.

Banding wise, banded: DOWO 1, BLJA 1,GCKI 4, RCKI 1,HETH 2, ATSP 5!!!!, SOSP 1, WTSP 1, SCJU 25 (over 350 banded this fall now), AMGO 3 = 44

FTD should be 3836 if the running total in the log book is correct. this is 14 birds shy of my best fall ever at Selkirk. To think that at the beginning of October I would have been plesed to have reached 3000 for the fall. October was real steady with no really large days. November normally has 1-2 days over 25 birds and a lot of 5-10 bird days. This Novmeber 17 has been the low day with most days in the 30-40 or better bird range. Unbelievable!!!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Selkirk - November 6th - 9th, 2006

November 9th

The birds continue to move through Selkirk in steady numbers. American Tree Sparrows continue to be absent this fall.

Another pretty decent day. Banded: BLJA 2, GCKI 6, RCK 2, FOSP 1, WTSP 2, SCJU 28
AMGO 1 = 42

FTD 3792


November 8th

Not nearly as productive at Selkirk today as compared to the past 2 days but still a pretty decent banding day. The diurnal flight this morning was pretty good with 1000's of grackles, and 1000's redwings, lots of E. Bluebirds and a some robins going over for starters.

Banded: BCCH 2, GCKI 4, RCKI 1, HETH 1, NOCA 1, FOSP 1, SOSP 2, WTSP 1, SCJU 10 = 23


November 7th

The forecast was not encouraging for today. The parking lot was wet this morning, it was raining in Canborough so we decided to check the conditions around 6 am rather than stricking out in the dark. After 6 we decided to try a late start as nothing conclusive could be determined from the radar images.

The station was operational by 7:30 and a few birds were present. Other than a couple of short sprinkles the weather held off really well. Shortly after 1 a light rain settled in and we closed.
Banding wise a fairly productive day for the end of the first week of Noveber.

Banded: DOWO 1, BCCH 1, WBNU 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 19, RCKI 9, NOCA 1, FOSP 1, WTSP 1, SCJU 13 = 48


November 6th

A nice November day at Selkirk. Pleasant and sunny mainly. The trails are drying up. The worst sections are now tacky instead of soupy so the mud is sticking to the boots but that is a positive sign. Bird wise a good day number wise but variety is dropping off. Lots of diurnal migrants this morning. 1000's going over.

Banded: BCCH 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 6, RCKI 3, SCJU 29 = 40


Sunday, November 05, 2006

November 5th, 2006 - Ruthven's final day of fall banding


A good finish to an interesting season.

Light southerly winds and overcast skies during the night is always good for banding at Ruthven. And so it was today - the last day of the Fall banding season here. We had a couple of good rounds before the wind picked up and bird movement tailed off noticeably. One interesting sighting was a small flock of Tundra Swans going by from west to east. I heard their beautiful call long before I was able to spot them.

Banded 55:
2 Brown Creeper
5 Golden-crowned Kinglet
2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
4 Hermit Thrush
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 American Tree Sparrow
5 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
10 Slate-coloured Junco
18 American Goldfinch.

Retrapped 29:
3 Downy Woodpecker
1 Blue Jay
10 Black-capped Chickadee (interestingly, most were caught at the same time in Net #10)
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 White-throated Sparrow
7 Slate-coloured Junco
3 American Goldfinch

Our Fall total is approximately 2,063 and our year total is approximately 4,886. I say 'approximately' because I have yet to enter the Fall data into the database. Usually there is a discrepancy between the count total and the electronic total due to......human error. (I then have to painstakingly go over the banding sheets to find the discrepancy.)

Thanks to everyone that helped make this season so productive and enjoyable!



As we progress into November the number of birds present and the variety falls off but the odd surprise does pop up. Today this trend was evident. However, a Monarch Butterfly was seen moving west today.

1 BCCH (Black-capped Chickadee)
1 RBNU (Red-breasted Nuthatch)
2 BRCR (Brown Creeper)
3 GCKI (Golden-crowned Kinglet)
3 RCKI (Ruby-crowned Kinglet)
1 HETH (Hermit Thrush)
1 MYWA (Myrtle Warbler)
1 FOSP (Fox Sparrow)
4 SCJU (Slate-colored Junco)

Total = 17


November 2nd- 4th, 2006

November 4th


It was cold (-5) and clear at opening time. A couple of White-throated Sparrows sang and chipped at me from the margins as I opened (but we didn't catch any of them today). There was a flurry of activity early but it petered out after that. For this time of year, we had pretty good variety for ET's - 39 species, the highlight being the first Rough-legged Hawk of the winter season (in fact, it was the first one encountered this year). I saw it just as I was closing the front gate on my way home.

Banded 34:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
4 Ruby-crowned Kinglet (including a very late female)
2 Hermit Thrush
2 American Robin
3 American Tree Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
14 Slate-coloured Junco
7 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 13:
6 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Brown Creeper
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Northern Cardinal
2 Slate-coloured Junco
2 American Goldfinch

Interestingly, we have not encountered a single Purple Finch this Fall despite having banded a record number of them last year. Could this be due to the excellent cone crop being reported in the north?



A cool but sunny morning although the wind was strong enough in the open to make it raw on the hands. Bird Numbers have dropped substantially over the past couple of days but still pretty decent numbers for early November. ATSP (American Tree Sparrows) continue to be far and few. We have banded only 2 and have 1 retrap from last spring. That has been it period.

Banded: DOWO 1, BLJA 1, RBNU 1, GCKI 4, RCKI 1, HETH 2, EATO 1, SOSP 1, WTSP 4, SJCU 9 = 25

FTD 3622


November 3rd


Clear and cold at dawn this morning. Opening was delayed until it could warm up a bit. The day saw ever increasing wind and cloud cover. Not much in the nets lanes although there was some life around the feeders. My faithful flock of EUST (European Starling) seems to have departed.

A small flock of BUFF (Bufflehead) were observed on the river, and a lone frigid TRES (Tree Swallow) foraged fruitlessly in the -6C temperatures. A few TUVU (Turkey Vultures) were still in evidence following the river southwards.

Around midday a lone GRYE (Greater Yellowlegs) was observed flying over the park.

Banded 15: NOCA, FOSP 2, SOSP 3, SCJU 5, AMGO 4

Retrapped 10: BCCH 6, AMGO, WBNU 2, SCJU



A cool but sunny day for most of the time. Lake effect snows stayed south of Lake Erie. However a good heavy freeze overnight with shaded area still iced over when we left mid afternoon.

Bird wise numbers have dropped off substantially but still darn good for November. Anything over 10 I would consider good this time of the year.

Banded: BCCH 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 4, RCKI 2, HETH 1, OCWA 1, SOSP 1,WTSP 4, SCJU 8 = 23


November 2nd


A quiet dawn....followed by a quiet morning....ending with a cold, windy slightly-louder-but-equally-birdless early afternoon. Not much around the nets but there were some oddities such as an EATO (Eastern Towhee; always nice) and a semi-albino HETH (Hermit Thrush) with large white blotches of white on its rects, coverts, primaries and secondaries. It actually looked fairly sharp.

A very cold Clouded Sulphur was found sheltering in the grass near Net 10.

In other banding news I received notification about a MALL (Mallard) I banded in 1990 being shot near London this fall. The bird was at least 16 years old.


Retrapped 10: BCCH 4, DOWO, SCJU, BRCR, NOCA, AMGO 2



The day started off with lots of sun and no wind but by noon hour it was getting a little raw. Still a good number of birds present for early November. So far the ATSP (American Tree Sparrows) have failed to arrive. Just 2 stragglers so far.

Banded: BLJA 1, BCCJ 1, RBNU 1, GCKI 17, RCKI 4, HETH 4, NAWA 1, FOSP 2, SCJU 31, AMGO 1 = 63

As promised, Nov. 1st figures. I might add that finally after nearly a week of hearing BLJA (Blue Jays) and RBNU (Red-breasted Nuthatches) protesting in the pines we had a look. A LEOW (Long-eared Owl) was in the pines behind the banding trailer.

Banded; BRCR 4, GCKI 24, RCKI 10, BHVI 1, NOCA 1, ATSP 1, FOSP 3, SOSP 2, SWSP 1, WTSP 2, EWCS 1, SCJU 27 = 77


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 30th - November 1st, 2006

November 1st

Selkirk's end-of-October report

Overview. Selkirk operated 26 days during October. 1676 birds were banded which is an average of just under 65 birds per day. This keep the crews busy. The fall to date total as at October 31 was 3432 which is the 3rd best fall at Selkirk durning the 9 years the station has operated in the fall.

Top 10 so far this fall

Golden-crowned Kinglet (GCKI) - 562
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (RCKI) - 480
Slate-colored Junco (SCJU) - 180
Magnolia Warbler (MAWA) - 168
American Goldfinch (AMGO) - 130
White-throated Sparrow (WTSP)- 125
American Robin (AMRO) - 123
Song Sparrow (SOSP) - 116
Myrtle Warbler (MYWA) - 110
Gray Catbird (GRCA) - 94


PS. November has started off well with a great day for November 1st. I forgot to write down the day's totals but 77 birds of 12 species were banded. Full listing tomorrow. Best bird may have been a Blue-headed Vireo (BHVI).

For Linda's information Tundra Swans are back and some were dropping down into the estuary or out onto the lake.


What a lovely day to start November! It was a more pleasant day than much of October. No wind to start, with some welcomed sunny breaks. There were more birds around than I had anticipated. Quite a few retraps. Most of these birds were banded very recently.
We are still banding Hermit thrushes, with 4 more today! (This is a Ruthven record, with well over 100 banded.)

Banded 40: 1 MODO, 4 BCCH, 2 GCKI, 1 RCKI, 1 EABL, 4 HETH, 1 AMRO, 3 NOCA, 3 ATSP, 2 WTSP, 15 SCJU, and 3 AMGO.

Retrapped 18: 5 BCCH, 1 BRCR, 1 GCKI, 3 HETH, 6 SCJU, 2 AMGO.


October 31st


Gusty winds and light intermittent showers kept the few birds that were around hunkered down. It was very quiet with little visible migration. Fortunately, to keep the day lively, we had an influx of women: members of the Burlington chapter of CFUW - Canadian Federation of University Women. They were a keen and interested (and interesting) group that kept us on our toes. And they're going to come back to help us brush out a new walking trail.

We ended up banding 21:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
4 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Hermit Thrushes
1 American Robin
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Tree Sparrow
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
3 Slate-coloured Juncoes
2 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 12:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Brown Creeper
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Northern Cardinal
4 Slate-coloured Juncoes
1 American Goldfinch



Ruthven Park's banding station was visited by members of the Burlington Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women. Bander Rick Ludkin was able to give them a good introductory exposure to bird studies at the site. Rick reported: "Although I'm just a guy and not that bright, I found that sudden concentrated looks to the treetops or the cocking of my head to nebulous sounds in the underbrush, followed by busy scribbling in my notebook, was all it took to have them thinking I knew what was going on....."


A mild morning with the threat of light rain. Most of the morning was sunny breaks but a distance rumble of thunder could be heard now and then. A light rain started just about normal close down time so we got in a full day. The wind was a little brisk but the pines were again an effective wind block. Not as many birds banded today as compared to the past couple of days but still a decent day. Starting any day now 10 or so birds banded will be a good days catch.

A nice big am. toad was beside the muddy banding trail today. So far this October over 5.25" of rain has fallen to go with the down pours of September which brings the 2 month combined total to over 10 inches of rain. This is a lot for this part of the country and on the heavy clays the surface stays saturated.

Banded: RBNU 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 18, RCKI 7, NOCA 2, SOSP 1, SCJU 10 = 40

October 30th


A beautiful Fall day. Lots of bird movement - in terms of Canada Geese and blackbirds. An American Woodcock flew over net #2 while I was opening. Later, a Common Snipe passed overhead toward the flats on the other side of the river. There were quite a few birds around for this time of year although not much variety (35 species encountered).

Banded 49:
5 Mourning Doves
5 Black-capped Chickadees (unusual for ruthven at any time other than the fledging period)
2 Golden-crowned Kinglets
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
4 Hermit Thrush (we've banded well over 100 now which most certainly is a Ruthven record)
1 American Robin,
1 Northern Cardinal
1 American Tree Sparrow
4 Song Sparrows
2 Swamp Sparrows
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
11 Slate-coloured Juncos
11 American Goldfinches

Retrapped 12:
2 Black-capped Chickadees
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Hermit Thrush
1 Northern Cardinal
3 Slate-coloured Juncos
3 American Goldfinches



When it is a nice day at Selkirk the usual pattern is for very few birds to be in the banding area. Fortunately that was not the case today. A pleasant fairly mild sunny day and no gale blowing!!!!! Maybe some of the mud may dry a bit. September and October have seen around 10" of rain fall. Everything is saturated. I can not recall so much slop (mud) around the banding area and this is with 100's of feet of drainage ditches dug and over 400 feet of wooden cat walks laid down over the cronic worst sections.

With the mild weather a garter snake, little brown snakes and even a wood frog were noted in the banding area.

Banded: SSHA 2, MODO 1, BLJA 1, RBNU 1, BRCR 5, GCKI 29, RCKI 3, HETH 2, AMRO 1, CEDW 6, MYWA 1, EATO 1, SOSP 1, SWSP 1, SCJU 21 = 76

The combined kinglet total is now over 1000 banded this fall.


Monday, October 30, 2006

October 29th, 2006

Note: There are a few new pictures in the October 21st post.


It was a wonderful day at Ruthven for flying.....kites. The heavy, gusting winds were affecting all of the nets so I left them closed and hoped the traps would do the job. The sole bird that I caught, a Slate-coloured Junco, got into the trap before it was even baited. All the smart birds stayed hunkered down....somewhere else.



After yesterday's rain out today's forecast was for dry but very windy weather. The energetic crew went out early to try for Northern Saw-whet Owl (NSWO). (Boy is it nice to sleep in!!!) It was a starry night in the predawn but the only NSWO detected was one calling just south of the banding trailer.

Despite the gale force winds out in the open and the high wind warnings issued for the day the pines provided great wind protection resulting in 4 nets blowing a bit and the rest in fine shape.

Banding wise a good day!!!

Banded: BRCR 2, WIWR 1, GCKI 27, RCKI 7, MYWA 1, FOSP 1, SOSP 2, WTSP 2, SCJU 28 =71.

The Magnolia Warbler (MAWA) banded on the 27th was retraped today.

A wood frog was hopping by the banding net trail.

FTD 3316 (3rd best fall and at least 2 weeks to go).


Sunday, October 29, 2006

October 26th-27th, 2006

Please note: The October 24th-25th post has been updated.

October 27th


A cold bitter day made for a cold bitter bander. At least until dawn. A spectacular sunset with shades of fire orange and crimson did much to restore flagging spirits, as did the fact that the rain mostly held off until the nets were closed.

Many birds around, although they were for the most part quiet.

Banded 73:
AMGO 23 - American Goldfinch
RCKI 4 - Ruby-crowned Kinglet
GCKI 3 - Golden-crowned Kinglet
SCJU 14 - Slate-colored Junco
ATSP 13 - American Tree Sparrow
HOFI 4 - House Finch
EABL 2 - Eastern Bluebird
SOSP 2 - Song Sparrow
HETH 3 - Hermit Thrush
WTSP 2 - White-throated Sparrow
FOSP - Fox Sparrow
NOCA 2 - Nothern Cardinal

Retrapped 4:
AMGO - American Goldfinch
BCCH - Black-capped Chickadee
HETH - Hermit Thrush
SCJU - Slate-colored Junco



A great sun rise to start the day but the clouds rolled in shortly thereafter. Enough of a breeze from the east to make it a chilling day when out in the open. A few sprinkles shortly after noon prompted an early close down so that when we got back to the park gates a light rain was starting in ernest.Banding wise a decent day.

BRCR 1 - Brown Creeper
GCKI 16 - Golden-crowned Kinglet
RCKI 8 - Ruby-crowned Kinglet
HETH 6 - Hermit Thrush
BHVI 1 - Blue-headed Vireo
MAWA 1 - Magnolia Warbler
BTBW 1 -Black-throated Blue Warbler
NOCA 1 - Northern Cardinal
FOSP 1 - Fox Sparrow
WTSP 2 - White-throated Sparrow
EWCS 1 - Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
SCJU 7 - Slate-colored Junco


October 26th


A cool start after a fairly clear night but it clouded over a bit and then it was sunny breaks for most of the morning with next to no wind. Never got that warm but no cutting wind chill to contend with.Bird wise it seemed fairly quiet compared to the past few days. Not as many blackbirds, robins etc going over nor the chorus of White-throated Sparrow along the edge of the marsh and the hedge rows. However a good number of Eastern Bluebird going over, perhaps 100's. It was a bit of a surprise of how well the day went when the day's effort was totaled. Actually a darn good day!!!

Banded: DOWO 1, EAPH 1, BLJA 2, BCCH 2, RBNU 1, BRCR 2, GCKI 46, RCKI 7, HETH 4, ATSP 1, FOSP 4, SOSP 1, SWSP 3, EWCS 1, SCJU 11, AMGO 6 (the first banded since mid Sept.!!!!) = 93


Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 24-25th, 2006

October 25th


An overcast day with a steady scattering of migrants, mostly Red-winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, American Robin, American Goldfinch and Blue Jay, trickling overhead in the early part of the morning. There was a Carolinian feel to the day (a good thing given that Ruthven Park is situated in Carolinian forest) as at one point Carolina Wren, Eastern Tufted Titmouse and Red-bellied Woodpecker could all be heard calling at the same time from various parts of the property. Otherwise though the woods were fairly quiet, which made the steady stream of birds from the nets somewhat of a surprise.

The first Rusty Blackbird (RUBL) of the season was banded.


Retrapped 11: GCKI, HOFI, AMGO 3, SCJU 3, BCCH 2, HETH



A much better day weather wise and is often the, case nice weather no birds. At least after yesterday it seemed like no birds. It was actually a present decent banding day,

Banded: SSHA 1, EAPH 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 19, RCKI 11, HETH 2, AMRO 3, OCWA 2, MYWA 1, FOSP 3, WTSP 2 , SCJU 2 = 48


October 24th


There were lots of birds about, on this cool cloudy morning, with a nippy North West wind. Flocks of Junco’s Goldfinches, Robins, and Rusty Blackbirds were feeding in the grey dogwoods, in the willows, and on the ground. Fair numbers of Red tailed Hawks, Ring Billed Gulls, Mallards, Canadian Geese, and Grackles were higher overhead, on their way south.

We closed the nets after only 2 net rounds, as I had all the birds I could manage. We could easily have had well over 100 birds had I stayed open.

Banded 82:
1 Hairy Woodpecker
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Brown Creeper
4 Golden-crowned Kinglet
7 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
11 Hermit Thrush
10 American Robin
4 Cedar Waxwing
2 Myrtle Warbler
2 Northern Cardinal
2 Song Sparrow
1 White-throated Sparrow
16 Slate-colored Junco
20 American Goldfinch



A cool start to the day with the first frost of the fall around the banding station. Stacey arrived shortly after 9 am so I was able to go to the lab for some blood work. Fairly slow up to my departure time so I was a little surprised when the results were phoned to me. John D. missed grabbing a Peregrine Falcon he had in a net before it rolled out. It would have been Selkirk's 2nd.

The crew got busy after I left and banded the following: MODO 1, BLJA 1, REBU 1, BRCR 1, GCKI 88, RCKI 28, HETH 2, AMRO 2, NAWA 3, MYWA 2, FOSP 1, SWSP, WTSP 1, SCJU 6 = 138


Monday, October 23, 2006

October 21st-23rd, 2006

Please let me know what you think about having all the bird species' names typed out completely, rather than seeing AOU codes. Good, bad, indifferent....let me know. (Use the comment function).

I have some more pictures from this past Saturday at Ruthven which I haven't had a chance to post. Perhaps they will come tomorrow.

October 23rd, 2006


A cool windy day with some sunny breaks Which to some extent did help dry the ground up a bit.

Not a bad day banding wise:

Banded 53:

1 Northen Saw-whet Owk
1 Winter Wren
22 Golden-crowned Kinglet
14 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 American Robin
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Myrtle Warbler
1 Field Sparrow
2 Fox Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrow
3 Slate-colored Junco

John Dickie is just back from a week moose hunting at his ranch near Haliburton. John advises that there are flocks of 50+ BCCH roaming around his property. Not sure if this is normal for up there or is there a late influx brewing???


October 22nd, 2006


The forecast for today was not encouraging so I did not get up until 5 am and noticed it was raining here at Jarvis. Continuous checks all morning and into the after noon were all the same. wet. wet wet! So it was with great surprise that I get a phone call from one of my subs who had spent the morning banding. According to him there were short showers but for the most part it was dry banding!!!!!! He even tried for NSWO for an hour in the predawn.

65 Birds banded:

1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Brown Creeper
34 Golden-crowned Kinglet
18 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Hermit Thrush
1 Cedar Waxwing
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
2 Nothern Cardinal
2 Slate-colored Junco


October 21st, 2006


It was a perfect banding day at Ruthven - windless and overcast. It was very quiet along the edges when I was opening so I thought that, perhaps, the birds didn't know this. But...they just quietly threw themselves into the net without the early morning fanfare.

Banded 133:
1 Black-capped Chickadee
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
1 Carolina Wren
20 Golden-crowned Kinglet
26 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Gray-cheeked Thrush
14 Hermit Thrush
2 Blue-headed Vireo
5 Myrtle Warbler
1 Northern Cardinal
6 Fox Sparrow
12 Song Sparrow
1 Lincoln's Sparrow
14 White-throated Sparrow
23 Slate-coloured Junco
2 American Goldfinch
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow

Retrapped 11:
2 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Brown Creeper
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Eastern Bluebird
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
1 White-throated Sparrow
2 Slate-coloured Junco.


Some photos from Saturday:

A Lincoln's Sparrow

Comparison of a Hermit Thrush(left) and a Gray-cheeked Thrush (right).

A Carolina Wren, Ruthven's first of the year.

A Blue-headed Vireo.

Saturday was a great day for Fox Sparrows at Ruthven (from the bander's perspective, and perhaps not the sparrow's).

Carolina Wren.

Blue-headed Vireo.

Another comparison of the Grey Cheeked (left) and Hermit Thrush (right).

Mitch and Loretta working on banding a Carolina Wren.


We were back at it in Selkirk this morning after taking yesterday off as a rain day. No great masses of birds descended on us but it was steady.

Banded 123:

1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
62 Golden-crowned Kinglet
19 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
7 Hermit Thrush
3 American Robin
1 Blue-headed Vireo
1 Myrtle Warbler
4 Song Sparrow
4 White-throated Sparrow
1 Eastern White-crowned Sparrow
18 Slate-colored Junco