Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

MVFN Holds Successful Christmas Bird Count 2002

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
January 4, 2003
Written by: Cliff Bennett

OwlThe 58th Annual Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on Friday, Dec. 27. The count area, centred on the bridge in Carleton Place, includes areas almost to Innisville, Ferguson Falls and Union Hall, Almonte, east to Dwyer Hill Road, South to Ashton and Franktown. Twenty-nine field observers took to the rural roads, trails and woodlots and, during the course of the day, counted 5600 individual birds of thirty-nine different species. In addition, thirty-seven residents with feeders at home, counted a further 1012 birds bringing the total for the day to 6612.

The results of this count, which can be viewed on http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc, were slightly lower in species but higher in numbers from previous years. Record high numbers of mourning doves, northern flicker, blue jays, robins, starlings and cedar waxwings were tallied. All finches were very low and, for the first year since 1970, there were no evening grosbeaks around.

The Carleton Place count is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. MVFN Past-President Cliff Bennett organized the teams and areas of the count. MVFN member Georgina Doe coordinated the feeder counts, assisted by MVFN member Libby Goddard. MVFN member Mike Jaques was the official compiler.

Taking part as counters in the field were Al Potvin, Chris Hume, Tine Kuiper, Mike McPhail, Paul Frigon, Pip Winters, Mary and Howard Robinson, Allan and Peter Goddard, Lynda Bennett, all from Mississippi Mills; Don Brown, Rick Muise, Ken and Eileen Ross, all from Ottawa; Bruce Legallais, Bobby and John Clarke, Lanark Highlands; Mike and Joyce Jaques, Arnie Simpson, Joel Byrne, from Beckwith; Brenda Carter, Ed LeBlanc and Rick Carter, Merrickville and Ian and Susan Wilkes, Carleton Place.

Results of the count are as follows:

Canada Goose (8), Mallards (4), Common Goldeneye (16), Common Merganser (24), Sharp-shinned hawk (1), Red-tailed Hawk (6), Rough-legged Hawk (5), Ruffed Grouse (10), Rock Dove (656), Mourning Doves (376), Snowy Owl (1), Downy Woodpecker (71), Hairy Woodpecker (59), Northern Flicker (2), Pileated Woodpecker (9), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (642), Crow (249), Ravens (8), Black-capped Chickadee (866), Red-breasted Nuthatch (4), White-breasted Nuthatch (101), Brown Creeper (5), Golden-crowned Kinglet (4), Robins (338), Starlings (1290), Bohemian Waxwing (21), Cedar Waxwing (432), Tree Sparrows (325), Song Sparrow (1), White-crowned Sparrow (1), Junco (123), Snow Bunting (352), Cardinal (61), Purple Finch (80), House Finch (112), Common Redpoll (30), Goldfinch (146), House Sparrow (170).

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MVFN Holds Successful Spring Bird Count

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
April 23, 2002
Submitted by Cliff Bennett

MVFN Holds Successful Spring Bird Count

WoodpeckerAn exercise in saturation birding occurred on Sunday, April 21 when twenty -one members and friends of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists met in Appleton to take part in the club’s first annual Square Bashing bird census. The skies were clear but a brisk northern wind reddened everyone’s face and hands. Organized by MVFN Past -President Cliff Bennett, the event was an introduction to the second year of the five year Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas (OBBA) programme.

The whole province is divided into ten km. squares for the purpose of conducting the OBBA. MVFN has undertaken to cover one of these sections, identified as the Appleton square.The early morning Sunday birders were divided into six teams and each team was assigned a series of twelve point counts. With topo map and count sheets in hand, they set off to stop at each point, count everything heard or seen, compile their results and return to base. With so many counters in the field at one time, very few birds escaped notice.

The final tally for the count include forty-eight species of birds, totaling 3265 individuals. Collecting the highest score were Canada geese, with 2034 counted, followed by red-winged blackbirds, a mere 228. In spite of the cold wind, most birds were active with their mating rituals. An exception was a colony of purple martins in Appleton. They were huddled by their holes on the leeward side of the martin house, soaking up the sunshine but not moving one feather.

Over the next two months, individual birds listed at specific points in the square will be followed up, in the search for successful breeding evidence. During the 1980 ‘s OBBA , ninety-seven species were confirmed breeders in the Appleton square. So far, during the first year’s efforts, MVFN has listed twenty-seven confirmed as breeding. Special thanks go out to all those who took part in Sunday’s square bashing exercise.

The next MVFN event, Saturday, May 11, will be a walk in the forest to study edible wilds, conducted by noted authority on the subject, Martha Webber. For more information call Sarah Coulber, 256-2162 or visit the MVFN website at mvfn.ca.

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Ed Lawrence is for the Birds

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
March 25, 2002
Submitted by Susan Fisher

Ed Lawrence is for the Birds

SunflowerEd Lawrence is for the Birds Gardening guru, Ed Lawrence, drew a crowd of nature lovers March 21, to hear details of how to grow a garden with birds in mind. The evening was organized by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists as part of its popular on-going series of nature presentations and field trips.

With the help of slides and a detailed handout, Mr. Lawrence offered a bonanza of tips on the best species of trees, shrubs and flowers guaranteed to appeal to our feathered friends. Pines are high on the list of bird havens. Their rough, dense foliage offers good nesting, protection from weather and predators, while the cones and seeds are good to eat. Sweet, sticky maple buds attract bugs in the spring, and bugs will bring the birds.

The horticultural expert also spoke of the importance of leaving dead trees to rot, if at all possible. As the wood disintegrates, it becomes home for many tasty insects, fungi and other organisms that are important to the functioning of an ecosystem. Imperfect foliage is a good sign! It means that insects and bugs are helping themselves because the leaves have not been sprayed with toxic pesticides.

How you arrange your garden can be important, too. Birds are more likely to visit a garden that is broken into curves and a diversity of heights, colours and species, rather than a straight hedgerow. Water is important. Just a simple birdbath will do. Even better­hang a 2-litre bottle with a pin-hole in the bottom over the birdbath. The slow drip-drip will be irrestible to many bird species.

Mr. Lawrence is perhaps best known as CBC radio’s popular gardening expert. He is well respected for his down-to-earth advice and his environmentally friendly solutions to gardening problems. From 1997 until last year, he oversaw the grounds and greenhouses for the six official residences in the National Capital Region, including that of the Prime Minister. He is now the horticultural specialist for the N.C.C.

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Famous Birder Hoots on Owls to MVFN

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Feb. 22, 2002

Famous Birder Hoots on Owls to MVFN

OwlFamous Canadian and International birder Bruce Di Labio brought owls into the lives of over one hundred Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist members, friends and general public who attended the MVFN monthly meeting at the Almonte United Church, Thursday, Feb. 21. Bruce lives in Carp.

Di Labio’s presentation with slides took the audience through habitat descriptions, preferred locations for specific owl species and then the owls themselves, their description and nuances. Using tape recordings and verbal sounds, Bruce introduced each species’ various calls, from the wee sawhet to the large great horned owl. He pointed out the various seasonal times one is most likely to hear these raucous rodent retrievers.

Introduced by MVFN host Joel Byrne, Mr. Di Labio immediately showed that owling is not as easy as it seems. Being largely nocturnal, he noted owls have an uncanny habit of blending into any habitat during the day sleep period, making sighting very difficult and calling for much patience. In several slides used, finding the owl was a real challenge for the viewers even though it was right in front of them.

Looking first around trees for signs of “whitewash” and then for regurgitated owl pellets is the best indicator of an owl’s roosting tree. Bruce extolled the advantages of visiting Amhurst Island west of Kingston to get one of the best views of owls in Eastern Ontario. After numerous questions from the audience members, Di Labio was thanked by the host and presented with a basket of local maple syrup products.

A special presentation was made during the evening to the two main winners of last summer’s MVFN Annual Field Sketch Contest. MVFN Chair of Publications, Publicity and Public Relations Eileen Hennemann presented a nature book and a gift certificate to Mary Beth Lalonde, daughter of Margaret and James Lalonde, for her sketches of a wren family habitat and a common loon and, to Sonja Koster, daughter of Ken and Michaela Koster, for her display of a dragonfly and a painted turtle.

The summer field sketch contest requires children to take their sketch pads into the field, forest and stream to illustrate natural observations. The contest is open to all children in various age categories and is best shared with parents or adult friends.

Ms. Hennemann also announced during the evening, the launching of MVFN’s own Web site. On the site, one can find all news and information about MVFN plus a message board for posting nature news, observations and enquiry’s. The site can be gained by calling up mvfn.ca.

The next MVFN evening programme will be held on Thursday, March 21, at the Almonte United Church. The keynote speaker will be MVFN member and famous broadcaster Ed Lawrence. His topic will be on planting your garden with birds in mind. For more information, contact MVFN Programme Chair Sarah Coulber

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