Article by Joanne Fleet
I was on a guided hike with the Hamilton Naturalists Club when I heard someone ask, “Is that a Goldfinch singing? Why are they still singing? I thought all birds stopped singing by July 15th?”
I was very new to birds after having just enjoyed my first visit to Ruthven Park. I did not understand the question at all, because I thought that all birds sang all the time; I was wrong. Turns out, males are usually the songsters. In the same way they use their resplendent breeding plumage, males use their song to secure breeding territory, to attract a mate, and to defend their breeding territory. When they sing, they are saying, “Listen to my song, Ladies! I am a genetically superior specimen. I can sing longer and stronger than all the others because my territory is rich with food and safe from predators! Choose me! Choose me!” Once chosen, and after the hard work of raising young has concluded, energetically, it is no longer efficient to sing. All that birdsong is fuelled by food which requires foraging and eating and hiding and defending. Put simply, it’s too much work to keep it up, so they quit. Most birds, especially migrants, get down to the business of breeding in early spring and cleverly time their breeding with the emergence of the insect population, which is their primary food source. American Goldfinches are no less clever – they too time their breeding with their primary food source – thistle. In Ontario, thistle species typically go to seed in July. For this reason, American Goldfinches breed much later than most North American birds which is why we still hear them cheerfully singing long after the others have stopped. The collective noun for a group of Goldfinches is ‘a charm’ which is an apt name as they delight backyard birders year-round with their enthusiastic chatter, undulating patterns of flight, and no-nonsense appetite for nyger seed – which is of no interest to pesky House Sparrows or squirrels.
Bird Banding – Ruthven Park National Historic Site
Summer has flown by and the fall migratory period has begun. That means from September 1 to November 7, bird banding is scheduled daily from dawn until noon except in inclement weather located at Ruthven Park National Historic Site Bird Banding Station.
Workshop with Elizabeth Boyd Registered Medicinal Herbalist. Participants will: prepare fire cider, syrup and onion honey; dig burdock root; gather New England Astor petals; sample burdock root salad and dandelion cake with New England Astor petals and finally take a fall herb walk around Ruthven’s grounds with Elizabeth. Pre-registration is required $40 per person. Call today to book your spot 905.772.0560!
10:00 am Stop at Caledonia Grand Trunk Railway Station and Museum for a tour
11:00 am Stop at Coach Pyramids Shoppe for a bit of Canadian Country shopping therapy
11:45 am Lunch at St. Paul’s Church Parish Hall
1:30 pm Tour of Ruthven Park National Historic Site’s Mansion and Edwardian Garden
(includes tour, refreshments served in the Coach House, and free parking)
3:00 pm Embark for home
Tour additions may include: seasonally-themed displays and activities in Caledonia and / or special events at Ruthven Park or in the surrounding community throughout the year. Booking minimum of 25 people will be applied to guarantee pricing. Changes to tour may be subject to additional cost. All locations offer free and plentiful parking.
To book this tour: Call either contacts below;
Ruthven Park National Historic Site: Kelly Cossar, 905 772-0560 or email@example.com
St. Paul’s Church Women’s Club: Kathy Drewitt, call 905 765-0786
COST and PAYMENT
The cost for the full tour is $22.00 per person. Payment should be made in advance by the group leader whenever possible over the phone or in person. In person payment can be made at Ruthven Park National Historic Site’s Gate House, which is located at the site’s entrance. Payment can be made by cash, cheque, VISA, Master Card, or debit. A receipt will be made available to the leader.
Dear members and friends,
Although August has come and gone, it seems the warmer weather will continue on into September. To view our August 2018 newsletter, simply click on the link below in this blog post and download the PDF to your computer or device. We hope to see you out at our Welcome Centre Ribbon Cutting Ceremony September 12th at 6pm.
Ruthven Park staff
The Welcome Centre and Grounds: Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 5:00pm
The Mansion: Traditional historic tours every hour on the hour from Wednesday to Sunday starting at 12:00pm with the last tour leaving at 3:00pm.
Phone: (905) 772-0560
Toll-free: (877) 705-7275
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0