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Saturday, 10 August 2019

Radio Tagging Barn Swallows at SpruceHaven

09 August 2019

The goals of science may be noble, but there's no avoiding the fact that the practice of field biology can be terribly impolite to its subjects.
Thor Hansen

     It was with a good deal of pleasure that several interested biologists and others gathered to observe our annual radio tagging of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) at SpruceHaven. 
     This year we were fortunate to be joined by several of Dave and Sandy's cousins from various parts of the continent, and by my daughter, Caroline, visiting from Ottawa.
     As is our normal practice we strung a mist net in the barn, and in no time at all we had trapped our first birds.


     We were delighted to enjoy the company of Julia Shonfield, who was a great help in retrieving birds from the net.


     Perhaps it is accurate to say that Sandy was left holding the bag!



     We received exceptional help this year from Megan Hiebert from Bird Studies Canada, who did the lion's share of the work in processing the birds.





       She was at once proficient, quick and extremely adept at attaching the equipment to the birds. Furthermore she was as agreeable and pleasant as one might wish for. I certainly hope that Megan will consider SpruceHaven a haven indeed and visit us often. I cannot overstate her contribution to a successful day.
     

     The tags are always checked to make sure they are functional before attaching them to a bird.



     Greg Mitchell, the scientist from Environment Canada who spearheads this  research programme, was as always, a consummate professional, always concerned for the welfare of the birds and working with precision, care and delicacy.


     







     If only these birds could know the contribution they will make to the ongoing survival of their species they would surely endure their indignity a little more willingly. 



     There was not a person present, from veteran swallow biologist or bander, to those seeing the bird up close for the first time, who was not taken by the beauty of the bird.



     Dave was attentive as Megan explained some of the finer points of her actions to him.



     Technology advances apace and improvements in the life of the tracking devices and their miniaturization are a constant. Megan introduced us to a new device called a Life Tag, which is permanently attached to the bird, and has its own solar panel to generate energy. It requires two sets of hands to attach this one.






     Would you say that Megan, Lorraine and Heather look pleased with the morning's activity?



     Caroline was anxious to observe and absorb as much as possible and stuck close to Greg to benefit from his expertise.




     Except when she was with Lorraine, that is!



     Lee Fraser was happy to release a bird and seems to be a supplicant to favourable winds and good foraging to speed the birds on their way to their winter quarters in South America.



     As always, it was a very agreeable day, in many respects the culmination of our year's work with the swallows and we appreciate the contribution that everyone made to its success.
     We will look forward to receiving news of our swallows as they embark on their hazardous journey, and hope that we will welcome them back again next spring.

71 comments:

  1. Hari OM
    Wonderful efforts by all - and isn't technology amazing?! YAM xx

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  2. HUGE thanks to everyone who participated. And to a positive use for new technology. A life affirming use...

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  3. Fascinating pictures of beautiful, knowledgeable people during their research activity of tagging swallows!

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  4. Amazing photos of this tagging process. The swallow is a beauty. I hope they have a great year and provide a lot of helpful information.

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  5. What a fulfilling work you did! How many birds did you tag? Do you think the birds are stressed about this procedure? I could imagine that they are quite scared, but perhaps I'm wrong. What do you do with the data that you eventually collect?

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  6. Wonderful stuff. In relation to the words at the top of the post - I once spent two days doing cloacal swabs on waders! I think Mr. Hansen had a point!!

    Less than a year till you can see Galahs out of the window!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  7. Good that everything ended well:) Regards:**

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  8. It's impressing what technology can do, David. Keep up the good work!

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  9. cute little swallow and all people looks happy....
    Great shots....

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  10. Hi David - what a great group of friends and in particular who are happy to be out and about helping the professionals in their research work. Amazing how technology has developed and obviously makes the birds' life easier as they fly the winds ...

    They are beautiful birds ... what a wonderful group of friends you've got around you ... thanks for posting the photos and the news - cheers Hilary

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  11. Towards the end of September our beautiful little European Swallows will leave our shores for winter. They travel down through western France and eastern Spain into Morocco, before crossing the Sahara Desert and the Congo rainforest – finally reaching South Africa and Namibia six weeks later.
    What remarkable little birds they are, anything done to assist them in this changing world of ours is of the utmost importance.

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  12. Hi David.

    The Barn Swallows are beautiful to see, I always enjoy them here at the bird huts.
    Good job from all of you there to keep an eye on the birds.

    Greeting from Patricia.

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  13. Team-work at its best there, David. I trust that you'll be reporting back on any update information received from these tags. Had to smile at your quotation from Thor Hansen. My love to you and Miriam - - - Richard

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  14. I'd not seen that quote, before and how true it is. But for ourselves the fast procecessing and quick release is our priority at all times. It is but a transitory moment in the life of a bird. You have a great team there David.

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    1. I just reread Thor Hansen's book "Feathers" which is where I got the quote.

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  15. A useful activity; a noble act.

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  16. Hello, looks like a nice group of helpers. The swallows are so cute! I hope the swallows do well. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great new week ahead.

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  17. what a great program...the people involved look to be "younger" professionals!! it is always nice to see younger people involved in these endeavors. the pictures are great, barn swallows are much prettier than some people think. it's great that this program is helpful to the birds, and nice that you are involved!!

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  18. A program I once watched about birds revealed in stark detail the ordeals that most winged creatures endure during their journeys to find food and habitation. They are free to travel through degrading environments that take them through perils we would not know about without help from scientists. While we hope the best for them, it is ironic that hundreds of thousands of other birds die daily for our dinners with no chance to roam let alone fly.

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  19. A day for ringing Barn Swallows, lots of people there.

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  20. Helt underbart David med så många entusiaster som är villiga att bidra till det värdefulla arbete ni gör. Jag förstår att det också är en trevlig, social samvaro med vänner som förenas av ett gemensamt intresse.

    Apropå svalor, våra tornseglare (Apus apus) lämnade oss de första dagarna i augusti, gissningsvis hade vi fem eller sex bosättningar i år, inte dåligt. Samma vemod drabbar mig varje år när de tar farväl efter att hela sommaren visslat över mitt huvud. Men idag såg jag plötsligt en tornseglare som flög in under takpannorna. Någon som inte legat i fas med de övriga och förmodligen har kvar ungar under taket. Kanske någon av föräldrarna omkommit och ungarna inte är flygfärdiga. Oavsett vad som hänt hoppas jag förutsättningarna för familjen vid flytt är lika goda som för de övriga som redan lämnat oss.
    Ja, du vet, jag värnar om varje lite individ..

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  21. Me ha encantado veros. Besitos.

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  22. Long life to this pretty little and that she sends a lot of data for science !
    Good luck !

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  23. Fraai werk om de vogels op deze manier te volgen en meer over ze te weten te komen.
    Groet Kees.

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  24. Querido amigo David, interrumpiendo mis pequeñas y cortas vacaciones para dejar mi comentario a tan buen hacer por esa gente tan entusiasta y especializada en ese arte de marcar a esas extraordinarias aves. No cabe duda que su contribución es fundamental para conocer las rutas y comportamiento, un trabajo de investigación tan importante y seguramente como siempre ocurre tan poco reconocido. Es una maravilla el equipo reunido en esta ocasión para tan gran acontecimiento. Enhorabuena y mis felicitaciones querido profesor por tan hermosa y desinteresada labor.
    Un fuerte abrazo querido amigo y compadre David.

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  25. WOW!
    David, fascinating photos and amazing post. I am impressed with your harmonious team. You are great, true enthusiasts!
    I wish you a successful week:)
    Łucja

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  26. Hello my friend David,
    it is a nice fact that you can learn so much more about them by ringing the birds. Sometimes I think it is a shame that there are so many small birds, but it has now been proven :-) I hope for you that you will see all swallows again next year and that they have all survived the journey.
    I also wish you a very nice new week.
    Kind regards, Helma xo

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  27. A feeling good exercise for all the volunteers and great for the birds.

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  28. You and the team did a great job toghether and a great (photo)report of all you did together. I hope it was aworth the effort and that you can follow the tagged bids, and, that they will return save next year. It's a beautiful species.
    The qoute on the top of the blog is true I think.

    Kindest regards from your Dutch friend,
    Marianne

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  29. Hi David,
    It's a lot of work! I hope that the project will be successful again!
    Great report! Today I saw also a large number of Barn Swallows.
    Regards, Maria

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  30. I always so enjoy learning more about the good research your group does... and especially glad you are attracting one young people ... hope for our future. The swallow indeed are lovely birds and it is a treat to see them up close (and holding still).

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  31. These people are amazing enthusiasts!
    The swallows are wonderful!
    David, this is a very interesting post, I enjoyed it very much.

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  32. Hello David, and may the outcome of this project be a succes and mostly for the Barnswallows ofcourse. Glad that there is so much interest for the birds and vollenteers coming to help. And I do have the same question as Ricahrd, please let us know the results. The photos Miriam took are very nice and are a great support for this blog. So thank you David and Miriam.
    Warm regards from Maaseik,
    Roos

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  33. Great post and lots of good team work here, Megan seems very proficient and it was good to meet Caroline. I still wonder where all 'our' swallows went this year I have seen one!!!!
    Enjoy your week, Diane

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  34. Olá David!
    Grande equipa e um trabalho fantástico, uma bela partilha.

    Se as aves entendessem, seria muito mais fácil reconhecer que nem todos os humanos lhes querem mal.

    Abraços a todos.

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  35. So many good helpers and I love seeing young people involved with nature. It makes me think “we” will be leaving it in good hands some day!
    We are currently involved with the sighting and tracking of swallow tail kites in our state and we are seeing quite a lot this year, more than the last three for sure. It’s quite heartening to see the numbers rise with awareness. It’s also a record year for sea turtle nests. Maybe there is something (good) in the air?!

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    1. Hello Cynthia: It is certainly good to have a little good news now and then. Heavens knows there is enough bad news, so any positive sign is to be embraced.

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  36. You wonder what the birds think of this procedure.

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    1. Actually I don't wonder.I am pretty sure I know what they would say could they voice their opinion.

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  37. Such an informative post. Fantastic images bt Miriam and Lorraine.

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  38. Interesting post and great photo report!
    Greetings

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  39. Hi David,
    Once again you joined a group of people being concerned with the welfare of the birds. With the help of the tags important information about the behaviour of the birds can be gathered. It makes it even more worth doing this when everybody had a good time.
    Greetings, Kees

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  40. What a fantastic effort! In this era of negative news, it is so refreshing to hear of the important work being done daily by scientists and citizens of all stripes to further the base of knowledge about our avian friends.

    Of course, the very survival of all species is linked. It is especially heartening to see young people involved not only in learning and applying the latest in technology, but passing on that knowledge to us (ahem!) "more experienced" birders who are pretty sure we already know everything.

    Thank you so much, David, for a very uplifting post!

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  41. Hi David,
    What wonderful group of volunteers you have about you to help with these interesting tasks, but I note that most of them are very pretty ladies.
    The trackers appear to be smaller versions of the units we place on the backs of the Ospreys, I'm sure your trackers give the same information that ours do and can be downloaded onto your phone, truly amazing electronic devices.
    This is how Tim Mackrill found that the Ospreys actually glide to Africa with the use of thermals.
    All the best to you both,
    John

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  42. Fantástico trabajo amigo. Recuperar para que puedan seguir creando vida. Conozco centro de recuperación y hacen una labor extraordinaria.
    Buenna noche David.
    Un abrazo.

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  43. love to see a group working together this way. I enjoyed this post, thank you, David .

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  44. David - I really appreciate that you take the time to document this process, especially for those of us that are not familiar with it. I am sure that everyone tries to minimize the "indignity" to the birds!

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  45. I love it when you do this and share these stories. What a wonderful thing -- and as you said, I wish the birds could realize what they are doing for their species. Your daughter Caroline is just beautiful. I hope she had as wonderful a time being there as I have reading about this!

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    1. When she reads this, Jeanie, her husband will have to enlarge the door frame to get her head through!

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  46. Que fotos más bonitas.

    Un placer estar aquí


    Besos.

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  47. what a great post about tagging those barn swallows!I quess with the new techology it will be easy to track them..Here in Norway they have all went to Africa for the winther stay..I t is a bit sad to see the great goose track going too!Means autumm is approching!
    Thanx for wonderful post!Nice to see people come together for a good cause.
    Wish you all a great day!

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  48. It's amazing how people do this job, David. Well done! I saw only a lot of ducks with rings on their paws.

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  49. Oh my gosh, such delicate work. The photos are amazing. I love that quote at the top. It's so true.

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  50. Interesting! Can they be tracked on a website or anything? Always fascinating to see how far birds and other animals travel.

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    1. Unfortunately not, Jenn, but I expect to provide updates on my blog.

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  51. What care and tenderness Megan showed! The birds are so fragile, and yet she held them so carefully.

    thank you for showing this.

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  52. Fascinating! Barn Swallows are among my favorite summer visitors here in Southeast Texas. My daughter and her husband are lucky enough to have them nesting all around the porch on their home. I enjoy watching them as they dip and soar around my neighborhood.

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  53. Such cute birds when seen up close, and the research is fascinating. Looking forward to future updates!

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  54. The work looks so delicate and needs gentle handling of the birds. You have a good team of good helpers. Happy weekend!

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  55. Hello David, great post on the swallows. Kudos to all the volunteers. The research on tracking the swallows is interesting. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend! PS, thank so much for your visit and comment.

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  56. What a great & informative post! It was interesting to see your research group in action, never seen before. Pretty birds & pretty ladies as well!

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  57. Hoping you get lots of feedback from the tagged swallows.

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  58. They really are beautiful birds and I can imagine how special it would feel to hold them and do this important job. Thanks for letting us know how it all works. I'm hoping you get lots of good feedback too! Happy weekend!

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  59. So very interesting to see your photographs.
    Great team-work, lovely to see.

    All the best Jan

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