Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Nature Notebook Recent Sighting and report: 

“We also had a very exciting experience last week-end. A bird bander came to our property to band the Snow Buntings. I had been in contact with the Snow Bunting Network for several years, pleading for them to send a bird bander to my place! There are several banding stations in Quebec, along the St Lawrence, and also around the Great Lakes, but nothing in between. My location is perfect, right in the middle!
Finally, Rick Ludkin, a veteran bird bander, came with his wife and a young apprentice and we caught and banded 89 Snow Buntings! It was an experience I will never forget. As an avid birder, I always wanted to observe a bird banding session, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen right in my kitchen!!” 
Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids
Banding of the Lanark Snow Buntings:

My name is Lise Balthazar and I live in Lanark Highlands with my husband, Nat Capitanio. Every year, we have a large flock of Snow Buntings on our property; we feed them white millet. I had been in contact with the Snow Bunting Network, asking if they could send a bird bander to our property. Finally, on the week-end of February 11th, 2017, we had a veteran bird bander from the Waterloo area, Rick Ludkin and his wife, come to our property, along with a young apprentice from Montreal, Catherine Lavallée-Chouinard. We set up the traps, which are basically large cages on the ground with food in it; the birds make their way in to feed but can’t find their way out. As soon as several birds are trapped, time is of the essence. The birds are put into bags and brought to the banding station…which was our kitchen!!

Very quickly and expertly, Rick and Catherine pulled the birds out of the bags, measured them, determined the sex and age, checked the muscle mass and the fat and the weight. After all that, Rick would hand me each bird so that I could release it back into the wild. It was an exhilarating and emotional experience I will never forget.

We caught and banded a total of 89 Snow Buntings. We collected very important data which is sent to Canadian Wildlife Services. Snow Buntings are declining in numbers and the Snow Bunting Network is studying these beautiful little birds and their movements. They usually arrive in our area in December and leave at the beginning of March to go back to Groenland and Baffin Island to nest.

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids

The team at work in the kitchen.

Snow bunting banding release 2



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 MVFN Nature Notebook: Juvenile Bald Eagle

Recent sighting received February 17, 2017:

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids:

We’ve been seeing a Juvenile Bald Eagle flying around in the area lately, and this morning I spotted him, perched in a tree. I managed to take a few pictures before he flew away.”

Thank you Lise for these excellent photos of the bird!



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 MVFN Nature Notebook: What are these wild turkeys doing?

Recent sighting received February 6, 2017:

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids: Photos of wild turkeys.

They seemed to be ” having an argument . . .  It looks like they locked beaks and kept pushing each other, back and forth. I had never seen that behavior before: normally, there’s a dominant one who walks in circles around another turkey crouching on the ground. I am not sure who won this argument, as they disappeared into the woods. ”

Photos by Lise Balthazar


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MVFN Nature Notebook: Coyote or coyote x wolf hybrid?

Recent sighting received January 25, 2017

Lise Balthazar, Sheridan Rapids reported: “Yesterday [January 24], in the middle of the snow storm, I spotted a large animal running after a group of deer in our back field. It looked too big to be a coyote but a bit small to be a wolf. Could it be a coywolf?”

Photos were taken by Nat Capitanio

Tyler Wheeldon (Trent University) who spoke at our October lecture: “It can be difficult to accurately identify wolves/coyotes in central Ontario based on physical size and appearance due to hybridization that has occurred between wolves and coyotes, both historical and contemporary, which has led to intermediate-sized canids of variable appearance. Typically, genetic analysis is required to confidently assign an animal as wolf or coyote in central Ontario. However, based on the photos and the location of the sighting, my personal opinion is that the animal in question is probably an eastern coyote and not an eastern wolf, or at least is more coyote-like than wolf-like. The face seems quite coyote-like to me.”

photo Nat Capitanio

photo Nat Capitanio

photo Nat CapitanioCoy-wolf hybrid 3 Capitanio Jan 2017




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Evening Grosbeaks

MVFN Nature Notebook Sighting received January 19, 2017

Brenda Boyd was thrilled to see Evening Grosbeaks at her feeder today:.”. . .   first time I’ve had them at my feeder this winter – very exciting!” Brenda has sent in these photos.



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