Thank You’s Continued

Continuing with Rick’s previous post, I am so glad he forgot (he is getting up in years 😉) to add my neighbours to the list of landowners who are also donating the use of their land to our use, because I would love to be able to do that personally. The Hornsvelds have been incredibly generous and supportive in allowing me to use their land. They help to set up nets, move nets, take down nets, they walk their property and suggest new areas to try as net lanes, always say yes when Liam finds a new spot he thinks will be simply great and they help to maintain the net lanes by keeping the grass cut around them. As a 1 person show, it is a lot to run and maintain an area and their help has been invaluable. As they transition to a new house on their existing property, the surprising number and variety of birds we have caught in what seemed insignificant hedgerows has convinced them to leave these intact as areas for the birds. Furthermore, their plans to increase the diversity of native species through planting more trees and shrubs, by leaving meadow grasses in place and working to rid the wetland area of the nasty invasive phragmites to get some open water has me really excited to see what will happen to this area over the next few years. I bet the pair of Great Horned Owls, who were calling this evening from somewhere near the beehives, would agree with me. 

Summary for Glancaster 
Like Marnie, I am currently constrained by the demands of work and I am also working against the ever-decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with fall. As a result I was only able to open nets 17 days this fall. In the spring I can usually get in a couple of hours before school, but there just is not enough sunlight in the mornings to do this in the fall. I did attempt to open a couple of afternoons, but it was not met with remarkable success. I had total net hours of just less than 400 and my total birds banded this fall was 308. While I am an inland station, without access to water, my top ten birds banded were fairly similar to what was caught at the farm site: 

Slate-coloured Junco – 38 
Myrtle Warbler – 32 
Black-capped Chickadee – 29 
White-throated Sparrow – 26 
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 20 
American Goldfinch – 19 
Song Sparrow – 15 
Common Yellowthroat – 12 
Northern Cardinal – 11 
House Finch – 10 

One of the driving ambitions behind HBO is the idea of bringing people into close encounters with birds, thereby inspiring them to begin their own journey with birds. I have been volunteering with HBO for about 16 years now and have really enjoyed watching the fascination and wonder so many people have when they are first introduced to a bird in hand. I am so glad I have been able to continue doing this at my site; this fall I had almost 25 human visitors.  

I am also enjoying sharing pictures and stories with the new group of twenty-one 5 and 6 year olds in my class this year. TVO has some online learning resources we use sometimes, and I was delighted to see a couple of Grade 1 Science modules were specific to birds and even included information about Snow Buntings for Grade 1! I may have to see if I can find a site for Snow Buntings close to home this winter so I can tie them into some of my lessons. If you would like to check out the resource, you can access it by clicking here. 

Final Days of Fall Banding – Glancaster

The wind was quite strong this past weekend, which often means some nets just can’t be opened or have to be closed as the winds pick up. I don’t recall the winds being quite this strong last year, but it’s made me rethink some of the net locations I have as the property I’m using begins to open up a bit with the anticipated construction on my neighbours new house.  The initial locations near the hedgerows have turned out some pretty good numbers and interesting birds, but I’d like to tap into a bit more of the in-between areas of the deciduous/field/marsh area and the evergreen/field/marsh area and in doing so, get a little more wind protection as well.

While the winds slowed down the number of nets opened and the number of birds in the nets, it was a perfect pace for the visitors who came out.  Aliya brought her dad and brother with her and I credit both Rayaan and his dad for attracting the Eastern Bluebird into the net as they were both dressed in blue from head to toe!  I’ve been hearing bluebirds in the area for quite a while and have been wondering if they were just passing through or were spending a bit more time hanging around.  Apparently they have been looking for some good roosting spots as they were observed inspecting the bird house used earlier this year by a pair or bluebirds in the garden down the road, as well as inspecting the 3 tree swallow boxes we have in our own backyard.  It’ll be interesting to see if they stay around the next few months.

All in all, it was a great morning.  Aliya was able to band her first Eastern Bluebird and Rayaan was able to do a lot of off-roading with his specially designed rig, joining us as we checked the nets throughout the morning.

Aliya with her first Eastern Bluebird.

Rayaan helping to release the Bluebird. Note his blue outfit 🙂

This was an American Tree Sparrow I caught on my last round Sunday morning. I thought it was a recapture from last week but turns out it was a recapture from January! I had banded it at my feeder net last January and it has made its way back south again. This time it was caught down the road near the hedgerows.

November 5 & 6th
Black-capped Chickadee – 2
Slate-coloured Junco – 5
Eastern Bluebird – 1
Song Sparrow – 1
American Robin – 1

Black-capped Chickadee – 4
Song Sparrow – 1
American Tree Sparrow – 1
House Finch – 1
Hairy Woodpecker – 1



Addendum to Fall Frenzy

I was waiting on a few photos of people to add into my post from the previous week, and here they are!  Cousins, Avery and Eli were around for a busy Saturday and had a chance to interact with quite a number of birds and also had the chance to try their hand at banding.

Avery checking for fat and muscle scores as her cousin Eli looks on.

Eli checking the fat and muscle score on his bird.

Group photo!

Fall Frenzy – Week of October 17th-23rd

With the mix of cold, windy, rainy weather earlier this week, followed by the beautiful balmy days of these weekend, it always feels like there’s this need to get out and enjoy the remnants of “summer” before they give way to the cold, snowy days of winter.  It’s days like this weekend that I enjoy the excuse to be outside half the day!  This week I was able to band 3 days (2 of them in beautiful weather) with some great totals for me.  I’m averaging about 33 birds a day with my 5 nets.  A couple are usually closed due to the strong winds this week, but the others are producing some great numbers and interesting birds.  In an effort to be able to open all 5 nets, I’ve shifted some around.  One has moved closer and one is a bit farther.  To access the nets in as short a time period as I can, I usually use my bike to get to my nets down the road.  I’ll have to get a photo one day of me returning with 10-15 birds spaced out on my arm while riding back home.

Along with the large number of birds, I also had a few visitors on Saturday. Two of the visitors were a pair of young cousins with an interest in the outdoors.  Once things slowed down for the day, I was able to give them a chance to band their own bird before they left. It’s always a treat to give people their first opportunity to interact with birds up close.  You never know what interest it can spark!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 14
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 3
Nashville Warbler – 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 2
Brown Creeper – 1
American Goldfinch – 3
Black-capped Chickadee – 12
Myrtle Warbler – 14
Swamp Sparrow – 3
Slate-coloured Junco – 4
Song Sparrow – 1
Eastern White-crowned Sparrow – 3
White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
White-Throated Sparrow – 11
American Robin – 1
Red-winged Blackbird – 1
Northern Cardinal – 4
Brown Thrasher – 1

Black-capped Chickadee – 16
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1
Song Sparrow – 3
Myrtle Warbler – 2 (one of which was banded Oct 1 and captured again Oct 20th)

Total:  104 (Banded 82, Recaps 22)

Female White-breasted nuthatch. There have been a pair nesting around the corner from us, but rarely do we get them at our feeder. These migrants aren’t hesitating to come eat though! You can see the gray on the head of these female, contrasting with the black of the male in the photo below. FAS

Male White-breasted nuthatch. You can kind of see the darker black on the top of his head. FAS

Brown creeper – first for my nets. FAS

Nice treat in my net by the bees this morning, a Brown Thrasher. You can see the very pale yellow of the eye, indicating a hatch year bird. FAS

Helen, one of the visitors this weekend releasing one of her favourite birds, an Eastern White-crowned Sparrow. HO