28 June 2016
On the way back from Sprucehaven Miriam and I were delighted to see this very handsome Coyote Canis latrans. Often urban Coyotes are a little scruffy, skinny, and of necessity evasive. This sleek, obviously well-fed, gorgeous individual was seen in a field. The rodent population is high and at this time of year many Groundhogs Marmota monax are available for a wily, skillful predator.
These canids have been persecuted in every way man can devise but they survive against all odds. We were thrilled to see such a magnificent specimen and we earnestly hope for it to have a long and productive life.
When we were last at Sprucehaven with the intention of banding the final young birds, Kevin had determined that the occupants of one nest were a little small and decided to wait a couple more days.
|The Barn at SpruceHaven|
They look for all the world like the members of a choir, striving to hit a difficult high C in unison.
In adjacent nests the nestlings had been banded several days earlier and looked ready to fledge.
Having carefully extracted the candidates for banding Kevin carefully transported them to the table we have set up as our banding station. It is a casebook study in feather development to examine the growth of the various tracts on this small bird.
Throughout this whole process we have welcomed respectful observers who wish to see the banding take place; most of them never having experienced it before.
This evening we were joined by Kevin's stepdaughter Nicole McInally and her two-and-a-half year old son, Ethan.
Ethan's attention was riveted on Kevin and he was clearly fascinated by the whole process.
He didn't want to miss any part of what Grandpa Kevin was doing.
In addition to the nestlings we have begun to band the adult swallows in order to build up as complete a picture as we can of this significant colony. At the end of this breeding season we will be looking forward to the return of the swallows next spring when we will be able to ascertain how many are exhibiting natal and breeding site fidelity.
Having told Ethan how to hold his hand out flat, Kevin placed a banded adult in his hand, where it remained for the briefest of moments before zooming off.
His sheer happiness at having been able to do this is obvious in the picture below.
All of the nestlings have now been banded and the young have fledged from four of the nests. I check the barn each day and when I go there this afternoon I am expecting to find at least one more empty nest.
Soon I will be checking for second clutches - and the whole exercise will start all over again!