Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ruthven - Bird Banding for Kids

In between starting and finishing this post, my dear Grandmother died and went to her Heavenly Father.  I wanted to share a few thoughts, which are at the end of the post....

After quite a lack of any birding or photography in my life for the last while, things have picked up quite nicely.  This Wednesday I headed back to work after a nice vacation of just over a week filled with lots of Christmas and New Year's gatherings with family and friends.  That morning I was treated to see two coyotes chasing a rabbit through the snow across someone's lawn.  The next day, on my way to work, I had to turn around after noticing a small flock of 40 or 50 sparrow like birds which didn't look at all like sparrows.  Once I'd located them again, it turns out they were Snow Buntings (life bird #105).  I didn't have my camera, so I hope a trip into work will find them again in the same location, along Hwy 5 just west of Lynden Road, a driveway to a grain storage/mill where spillage from the trucks likely attracts them.

Saturday, I took my three boys to Ruthven where Peter Scholtens was hosting an event for kids which was sponsored by A Rocha Canada and Bird Studies Canada.  The kids were introduced to birding, bird banding and then were able to watch them take the birds out of the mist nets, band the birds, and then each child was able to take a turn to release a bird.

Andrew releases a Common Redpoll

Jordan releases an Common Redpoll

Head Bird Bander Rick sets Justin up with a bird.

Justin releases an American Tree Sparrow

Peter sets up a scope for the kids to look through.

The three amigos.

We all went for a hike out on a loop along the Grand River - it was a beautiful day for the outing with the wind having died down over night and the sun shining brightly.  It was a nice surprise to see friends from church (Dave and kids) there too.  A big thanks to Peter and Rick (and I'm afraid I don't know the name of the other lady bander) for putting this on for the kids (and big kids too!)

The group on a bird hike.

There were lots of Common Redpolls there, which was a new bird for me (life bird #106).  They were very comfortable with people near by, meaning I could sneak in some photography time while the boys played with friends on the grounds.

male Common Redpoll

male Common Redpoll

male Common Redpoll

female Common Redpoll

male American Goldfinch

Those weren't the only birds to be seen, but I disciplined myself to no birding pictures till the end (taking your telephoto lens off the camera will do the trick) and then a limited amount at that.  A Great Blue Heron lazily flew over, and a pair of Common Ravens were heard and then seen, followed by a Bald Eagle slowly coasting over the grounds.

Bald Eagle

I made some headway on starting this post yesterday afternoon, and then left to spend time with my grandmother during the night hours... I was taking my turn at her bedside along with the rest of my mom, brothers, sisters, cousins and uncles and aunts as she finished her earthly days.  Not long after I got there, she peacefully died and was freed from more than 12 years of Alzheimer's.  Although still sad, our family (her 10 children, 63 grandchildren, 129 great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild) is all thankful that she now, with a clear mind is thanking her Saviour face to face!  She was a godly woman and it was very touching to see that although she didn't know any of us at the end (so far as we know), she would still mouth the words to many of the hymns and Bible passages by memory as we would sing and read with her.  Those tucked away words never faded and were never confused.  This week will be a mixture of feelings as we gather as extended family to remember her life, contemplate the shortness of this life, and the be reminded of how we will all stand before our Maker one day.  I pray that all of you will be able to say one day, "It is well with my soul!" because you love Him as your personal Saviour.

Here is one of the many notes my Grandmother wrote while her mind was still somewhat clear in the earlier years of her Alzheimer's....

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. "
Isaiah 40:31


  1. Brian,
    The Ruthven trip looks like a great opportunity for kids to learn about birding! I'm a little jealous of those breathtaking Redpoll shots. My condolences to you and your family over your grandmother.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Dwayne - very much appreciated.

  2. Yes great pics Brian.... i really like the Isaiah quotation too...... God Blesses your Grandmother.

  3. So sorry to hear about your Grandmother's passing, but thankful to hear she was trusting in Christ. How lovely to have her handwritten note as a keepsake and a witness to her faith. As for the birds and banding, glad you had fun and got some great shots :)

    1. Sorry I never responded... Thanks Tiffanie. We actually have a whole book of these notes that she wrote during that time. Some very funny, some more serious and a good reminder to us of what is really important.

  4. I finally was able to see your new postings, Bri. Wonderful pictures of redpolls - beat you, though, on this one :) Unfortunately not for quite a while, but we have in the past had many redpolls at our feeder. It's so fun to see the boys and yourself enjoying this. Thank you for your warm and thankful posting about Grandma. Love, Mom


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