Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Barn Swallows (Hirondelles rustiques) at SpruceHaven, Banding Operation # 2.

19 June 2016

     Nestlings that had hatched nine days earlier were ready for banding and so it was that a group of interested people gathered at 09:30 to watch Kevin Grundy demonstrate his skills.
     Chief among the observers were Sandy and two of her grandchildren. 

Oliver, Sandy, Annabelle
     Annabelle has already declared that she wants to be a scientist and has made it known that she won't have time to get married or have children - or any of that stuff - she plans to be far too busy making scientific discoveries. Since she has an insatiable curiosity, and takes notes about everything, we took down one of the old, disused Barn Swallow Hirundo rustico nests for her. We also gathered some egg shells from the floor below nests containing young, all of which she will add to her stash of treasures. Anything we can do to encourage this inquisitive, probing mind is all to the good.

     Kevin in his normal careful fashion removed the young from the nest into the security of a cardboard box with a lid and took them to the table to be banded and recorded.

     As can be seen the young birds are rapidly developing feather tracts and they were feisty and not at all happy about being removed from the snug confines of the only home they have ever known.

     The children crowded in close so as not to miss a thing.

     Kevin was wonderfully patient and explained everything he did to an attentive audience while simultaneously banding the young birds with alacrity and precision.

     At times we thought that Annabelle was glued to Kevin's hip! She certainly watched the whole process very intently.

     As you might imagine the children were anxious to hold a young bird and after cautionary instructions from Kevin he very carefully placed them in their cupped hands.

     They were entranced with this intimate contact with young birds and no doubt would have much to talk about with their classmates at school the next day.
     I am sure you noticed a green ring on Oliver's finger. No, we weren't banding the children too! The year 2016 marks the centennial of the Canada-US Migratory Birds Convention and special commemorative bands were issued. Kevin had brought one for each of the children. I thought it was a unique souvenir and I was very happy that Kevin had an additional one which now sits on my shelf.
     Kevin holds the birds in the prescribed fashion and even though it doesn't look very comfortable the birds suffer no harm and are soon banded.

     Once the banding of the entire clutch is complete the birds are placed back in their nest.

     The adults at another nest continued to stuff insects into the hungry mouths of their offspring all the while the banding was going on. Given their long association with humans Barn Swallows are not especially disturbed by our presence, although they certainly let us know they would prefer that we were not there. In days past Barn Swallows were an integral part of any working barn or cow shed and the comings and goings of cattle, horses and humans were simply part of the daily routine.

     When we checked the nests as they progressed from eggs to young we used a mirror to count the young and monitor their progress wherever there was sufficient clearance to do so.

     Since Annabelle is such a dedicated little naturalist Miriam decided that she should have a special bag in which to collect the treasures she finds on her nature walks. Of course, it has a nature theme, as befits a young scientist in waiting, and here is Annabelle proudly holding her bag.

       This whole Barn Swallow project has been a textbook operation so far and we have every expectation that it will continue to be so. If we can educate the children in the process it is certainly a bonus for everyone involved.
       Many thanks to Miriam for taking these pictures while I was occupied doing other stuff.


  1. Hi David, sorry for being absent on the comments front but have been without a computer for two weeks. Super post lovely to see youngsters showing so much interest in young birds being ringed.
    Regards John

  2. Hello David
    fantasic occupation for the childrens.

  3. They nest in people's house here too and local people generally welcome them............

  4. Hello David!:) As a child I was taught that if I found a nest with young birds I was never to touch them, or the parents would abandon them on their return to the nest. This has stayed with me for most of my life, and yet I see them being ringed when they are so tiny, presumably without any problems from the caring parents. This still amazes me. If only I had had the instruction and experience afforded to this curious nature loving little girl, when I was a young girl. My thanks to Miriam for these super pictures.:)

    1. Many other people have made that comment to me over the years. It seems to be a bit o folklore or an old wives'tale, but it it certainly not true.

  5. Good to see there is a next generation birders in your region.
    Miriam did a good job, beautiful pictures!! Gr Jan W

  6. Dearest David,
    Those are days that will forever be etched on the retina of those two children and how wonderful that they are so eager to learn about this.
    Miriam created a lovely bag for Annabelle; lucky girl.
    Hugs and happy weekend.

  7. Lovely to see young folk participating,to hold and feel nature in there hands.
    Can't get any better than that.

  8. Beautiful for the children to see and take part.

  9. This is nice to see David.
    Wonderful that the children grow up with it and have respect for nature.
    Nice weekend, Tinie greetings

  10. Wow but nice swallows with us probably not ringing his.Good that the young generation drawn to explore nature.pozdrawiam Monika

  11. Hi David,
    very nice that there has been a new generation of kids :-) The birders learn as to have an early respect for nature with all its flora and fauna. Great to see how attentive the children or watching the small swallows and how they are small :-)
    Greetings, Helma

  12. The kids had such an awesome time. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

  13. The kids had an amazing time. Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunity.

  14. They are so tiny and looks so helpless and touching, these young birds I mean!