July 15th – Nancy’s Summer Activities and Banding at Ruthven Park

[While I have been away frolicing on Svalbard Island, Nancy Furber has been taking care of the banding program/station at Ruthven Park. Here’s some news on her activities.]

For the month of June I was working as a field assistant with the University of Windsor for Christine Madliger. Christine, formerly on staff at Ruthven, is using the Ruthven Park site and area for research towards her Master’s thesis. This is her second field season and she is studying stress hormone levels in Tree Swallows nesting in boxes in a variety of habitats The bulk of my work involved afternoon observations between the hours of one and six o’clock pm. Using a telescope I would spend one hour per tree swallow box, observing and recording the number of times the male and female would enter the box with food to feed the young. I would travel to the boxes by foot and/or by car, carrying my scope and chair. Some days were tiring, feeling exhausted from the heat/humidity and sitting in the afternoon sun. Overall, it was a great month spending more than one hundred hours in the field with over sixty hours observing the behavior of Tree Swallows feeding their young!

I have the auspicious task of maintaining the banding lab and all of the responsibilities required with it while Rick is away this summer. As well, I’ve been monitoring the Barn Swallow colony at the old barn across the road from the entrance to Ruthven Park. This includes banding the adults, monitoring the nests and banding the young. Barn Swallows have been identified as a ‘Species At Risk’. Another summer project is the monitoring of the Purple Martin colony at Ruthven Park. Christine, Chris, and I have been working together with this project. We’ve been checking the apartments, recording our observations [forty eggs (June 15) to 51 eggs (June 26)], and now we’re starting to band the young!

On July 5, we had a group of 43 day-campers visiting Ruthven Park and part of their program was a visit to the banding lab. We had a great morning introducing the group to the exciting and colorful world of birds – handling, banding and extracting them. Everything went well – I was working with a great group of people who came this morning to help and it made for a fun time together. The highlight for me this morning was the short/brief glimpses I (we) had of the Cerulean Warbler. I have been listening to this bird throughout May, the month of June, and into July. Christine, Chris and I have been hoping to see this bird during the different times we would hear it calling on the east and west side of Highway #54, south of the main entrance into Ruthven Park. We would hear it calling loud and clear, but it was elusive in the tree-tops. Today (July 5), a group of us walked within a short distance north of the banding lab and with our field glasses on the ready we had brief glimpses of the male Cerulean Warbler as it sang and hopped around the treetop! The opportunity to hear and to see this warbler is important to me because the Cerulean Warbler is threatened both provincially and nationally. It is a small bird that requires large, undisturbed tracts of mature deciduous forest treetops and it is hard to see. It nests and forages higher in the canopy than most other warblers. The main threat is habitat loss resulting from forest fragmentation, degradation and logging practices on the wintering grounds. Knowing that Ruthven National Park (in total the park comprises 1500 acres) is a summer home to this species (and many other species that are classified ‘At Risk’) is a treasure to protect and value.

July 5th’s Totals

Banded – 28                                                     Retrap – 9

Red-bellied Woodpecker – 2 (2 juvenile)    American Robin – 1
Downy Woodpecker – 2 (1 juvenile)            Gray Catbird – 1
Great Creasted Flycatcher – 1                      Yellow Warbler – 1
Black-capped Chickadee – 1 (juvenile)         Indigo Bunting – 1
White-breasted Nuthatch – 1 (juvenile)      Song Sparrow – 2
House Wren – 1 (juvenile)                              House Finch – 1
American Robin – 2                                         American Goldfinch – 2
Gray Catbird – 5 (1 juvenile)
Yellow Warbler – 3 (2 juvenile)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 2
Indigo Bunting – 1
Song Sparrow – 5 (4 juvenile)
House Finch – 1
American Goldfinch – 1

I will be at the banding lab different times through the months of July and August to open nets and band. If you’re interested in coming to watch and/or help please contact me.


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