Bird Banding At Ruthven Park

Ruthven Park is one of two banding stations of the Haldimand Bird Observatory. The licensed banders participate in the Canadian Migratory Bird Monitoring and follow a set protocol.

What is Bird Banding?

Bird banding refers to the “tagging” of migratory and breeding birds by placing a metal band on one of their legs. Using large nets, called mist nets (similar in shape to volleyball nets), and traps on the ground, we are able to safely capture wild birds. The birds are trapped or tangled, but unharmed, during this process and are quickly extracted from the nets or traps. They are then carefully carried back to the banding lab in small cloth bags (which help to reduce stress) where they are banded by a licensed bander.

Each band shows a unique 9-digit number which, if recovered, allows us to identify the bird as an individual with a “history”. Before they are released, we also take the opportunity to learn more about the individual birds by measuring and recording the species, sex, age, wing length, fat stores, weight, muscle mass, overall condition of the bird, and the date.

Why Monitor Migratory Birds?

As well as banding, we determine on a daily basis the number of each species of bird that we encounter around the banding area. The “estimated total” for each species is based on banding and recapture numbers, general observations while banding, and a 1-hour census.

The banding information we gather is sent to the Canadian Wildlife Service and then passed on to the Bird Banding Lab in Maryland where it is tabulated and entered into a continent-wide network that tracks the movement of individuals/species. Recording this information over time allows trends to be determined and can help us decide whether certain populations are declining, expanding, or stable. This data can also aide in landuse planning, stewardship projects, determining ecosystem health, and the implementation of rehabilitation measures for species that are being lost or are at risk. With the loss of bird habitat through urban sprawl and cutting of forests, we know that birds are facing critical threats. Furthermore, birds can tell us more about our environment and the effects of climate change.

Ruthven Park’s Banding Station

The banding lab is a hub of activity during banding season. After a morning banding, the banders and many volunteers that assist them gather important information. This is forwarded to Bird Studies Canada and to a banding lab in Maryland where it is tabulated and entered into a continent-wide network that tracks the movement of individuals and species. Up to 2,000 birds and 85 species can be banded in a season. Click here to learn about how you can visit Ruthven Park’s Banding Station.

Visit the bird banding blog to see results of the daily activities of the banding lab.

Ruthven Park also hosts the “Ruthven’s For The Birds” Annual Fall Migration Festival each year – visit the Ruthven Park blog for details as the season approaches.


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Please Note:

As Haldimand County has entered Stage 3, Ruthven Park has decided to remain closed at this time. Staff is working hard to make improvements to our site during these uncertain times to make your next visit to Ruthven Park even better.

Contact Us:
Phone: (905) 772-0560 

Mailing Address: 
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Box 610
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0