May 25th – More Visitors than Birds

Working in the Butterfly Meadow getting rid of invasive species. - J. Fleet

Beautiful weather made for slow banding this morning. But beautiful weather made for lots of visitors too. Fortunately, about two thirds of the 46 visitors were under the age of five and were easily impressed with the least noteworthy of birds. We caught 40 (20 banded/20 retraps).


But some really nice things went on with these visitors. First, and probably most important, was that a lot of children got an opportunity to experience birds up close and went away more aware (and most likely more appreciative) of the natural world around them.

Zak (left) and Luke (right) filling the buckets with wood chips.


The guys made over 20 roundtrips with the buckets.


Filling in the quagmire at Net 4.

And then there was the issue of child labour……
The Husak boys, Zakhar and Lukian, are frequent visitors and get to do a lot of birding. But the running of a banding station involves a LOT more than just watching/banding birds. There’s maintenance and upkeep. Now with all this rain the banding trails and net lanes have become quite boggy in places. So, who better to fill the wet spots than the boys? They were disbelieving at first but, after a few dire threats, saw the importance of trail maintenance and pitched in with a vengence, making over 20 round trips with loaded buckets to improve the trails. (I was thinking maybe I should start a sweatshop…..).

The Burgesses making the Butterfly Meadow a better place to be. - J. Fleet

Joanne Fleet put not only her adult friends to work but also her children and their’s. (I thought I was a sleazeball but at least the Husak boys were over 10.) On a serious note, though, you can’t start environmental conciousness too early and Joanne certainly has these kids thinking about how their actions can make the world a better place.

The Crew enjoying yet another wonderful repast at Joanne's Diner (Thanks Joanne!!!)

And then, of course, Joanne brought a delicious lunch for the banding crew – she recognizes, like Napolean, that a banding team marches on its stomach. Part of that team – Christine and Chris – spend most of their time these days monitoring well over 100 Tree Swallow boxes. They reported today that they have now weighed over 600 eggs! When the bad weather hit in April the Tree Swallows did one of two things: they abandoned their nests until it was over and then built a new one over top and started over OR they toughed it out through the cold and wet and continued to incubate their eggs. Interestingly, it appears that the birds in boxes closer to the River stayed with their eggs while those further away (at Taquanyah) abandoned and then started over. This suggests that the River may be a valuable source of food in bad times and allows birds to continue on despite the weather.

Visitor Cynthia Buist releasing a Song Sparrow.

We also had some visitors that were somewhat older – but just as interested. It’s always fun going over what we do and why with people that really want to know.

Wild Turkey nest with 7 eggs. - P. Thoem

Peter Thoem, who regularly comes all the way from Burlington to do the census for us, discovered
the nest of a Hairy Woodpecker and the nest of a Wild Turkey (complete with 7 eggs). Both are within 200 m. of the Mansion.

One of the two Purple Martin condos - the colony has grown to over 30 birds.

Another highlight of the day was the Purple Martin count: the colony has grown to over 32 birds!!!

So, despite only banding 20 birds, it was a VERY good day!

Banded 20:
2 Traill’s Flycatchers
7 Gray Catbirds
2 Cedar Waxwings (first ones banded of the year)
2 Magnolia Warblers
1 Blackpoll Warbler
1 American Redstart
1 Wilson’s Warbler
1 Canada Warbler
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 American Goldfinch

Retrapped 20:
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 House Wren
5 Yellow Warblers
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
8 Brown-headed Cowbirds

ET’s: 66 spp.


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