Saturday, December 1st at 10am-12pm
Come out and enjoy a morning at Ruthven Parks in the 1840’s Coach House creating a beautiful pine urn arrangement for the holiday season.
Great for your front porch or the perfect holiday gift for a house party.
Pre-registration is required, $40 per person, all materials are provided.
Call us today to book your spot 905.772.0560! Space is limited.
Hot Chocolate and holiday goodies will be served as well.
Article by Mike Furbur
To see a Purple Finch is always a thrill, particularly close-up at a banding station like Ruthven Park (where several were banded this fall). And, to watch an active nest of these remarkable birds for a week is also an unforgettable experience. Indeed, this is one of my fondest memories from several years ago involving Purple Finches. The nest was in a mature white spruce adjacent to an old ranger cabin on Tattler Lake in the interior of Algonquin Park. This is typical breeding habitat: open coniferous forests of spruce, balsam and pine. Furthermore, Purple Finches are regular breeders on the Canadian Shield, but their occurrence depends on conifer seed crops and Spruce Budworm outbreaks.
In Ontario, Purple Finches inhabit the Boreal Forest and the Conifer-Hardwood Transition Forest region. And, although places like Algonquin can be excellent for observing winter finches like the Purple Finch, it’s not necessary, to go “Up North” to see this somewhat elusive, but intriguing species. In fact, Purple Finches have been observed nesting further south in pockets of open coniferous and mixed woodland as noted during the two Ontario breeding bird atlasses in 1987 and in 2007. Winter, however, is probably the best time to see them.
Winter finches are not part of the Cardinal family (Cardinalidae), but are members of the true finch family (Fringillidae). There are several species of winter finches in Ontario. Most people are familiar with the male yellow American Goldfinch which changes to an duller olive-brown winter plumage; and, it’s probably the most frequently banded bird at most bird banding stations in north-eastern North America. Not as well know, the drab-coloured, yet elegant Pine Siskins look like heavily streaked winter goldfinches, often with yellow wing-bar markings; both sexes are identical and they also visit bird feeders usually in late fall and throughout the winter along with Purple Finches and House Finches. Then there are six finches that are much less frequently encountered: Common and Hoary Redpoll, Red and White-winged Crossbills, Pine and Evening Grosbeak – all of which generally stay further north if the annual coniferous tree seed crops provide enough food. But when they do come south, they frequently visit bird feeders.
Along with the irregularly abundant American Goldfinch, Pine Siskins and Purple Finches are the most likely finches to be observed and banded at Ruthven Park. Most winter finches are not seasonal migrants strictly speaking since they will stay wherever they can find food which usually consists of conifer seeds. The Purple Finch, however, comes close to being an exception; it is a short distance migrant for the most part. Some of the population starts moving in late September, then increasingly through October and November. Birds seen later than this, are possibly birds that “had a go of it” further north, but couldn’t obtain enough food. Consequently, Purple Finches can be seen at any time in the winter – especially at bird feeders.
An interesting phenomenon of the Purple Finch is that the young males look like females throughout their first year, with a drab brownish streaked plumage. They – male Purple Finches – then acquire their raspberry red plumage during the following summer months. This apparent plumage “cross-dressing” of young males masquerading as females has been a mystery to ornithologists for some time. It seems that we have “cross-dressing” (not to mention “cross-bills”) in winter finch society!
There are two main theories to explain this phenomenon. The most familiar one states that young males are given a better chance while competing with older males, in the “disguise” of a female-like plumage; this allows males to dwell in suitable breeding habitat in spring without being driven out by mature males. What’s more, young males can sing to attract any unmated females and they may even breed in their first spring as young adults. The other less known theory states that young, inexperienced males need to put all their energy into all that entails with just surviving, without using the significant energy needed to develop a bright mature male plumage. These theories are both quite plausible, and one should probably not replace one with the other. Even though one theory may seem to be more significant, both reasons are likely just two among many others that complement each other. And, of course, the important thing is that most female Purple Finches “get the raspberry.”
Well, be that as it may, the mature males are a sight to see, “appearing as if they had been dipped in raspberry juice”, as the late Roger Tory Peterson was fond of saying; and this “dipping” includes the back and wings where male House Finches are always brown. Indeed, the colour alone should distinguish them from the male House Finches, which vary from a lighter rosy pink to a salmon orange-pink. Recently some of the male House Finches have sported golden or even greenish plumages. Adding to the confusion young male and older female Purple Finches may have greenish gold in their plumage as well – particularly on the rump, back and wings. Furthermore, Purple Finches are generally stockier with a larger head and a suggestive small crest when the feathers are raised. With experience, it’s quite easy to distinguish between the two finches.
Along with his strikingly deep merlot or burgundy plumage, the male has a spectacular bright, cheerful, clear warbling song with long colourful accented phrases. A signature repeating buzzy note helps to identify the song. Males will often sing during spring migration, but the real spectacular performances occur on the breeding grounds. Small flocks of birds can be detected by their typical finch-like undulating flight pattern. Moreover, there are two features that might help identify Purple Finches in flight: the tails are rather sharply notched although this can be difficult to see; and, they often utter a soft, dry “pik” call note that is diagnostic, yet may be difficult to hear.
Nevertheless, this should be a good winter for winter finches because of a poor seed crop further north this past year. To this end, you will probably spot several Purple Finches this winter, particularly at a birdfeeder; and if you see a male, be sure to rejoice in the reception of a visual “raspberry.” Cheers!
Sunday, December 16th at 2:00pm
Pre-registration is required – Tickets $20 per person Members $10 per person
Get into the holiday spirit as you enjoy a traditional Scottish tea featuring locally-baked scones,
followed by a tour of the Thompson Mansion decorated for the season.
After your tea and tour stop by the Hollyhock Gift Shop for all the hard to buy for on your list
Sunday, December 9th at 2:00pm
Pre-registration is required – Tickets – $20.00 Member – $10.00
Enjoy an afternoon talk with Tom Reitz collector and curator, speaking on the
“Celebration of Christmas in the Early 1900’s”.
While enjoying some hot chocolate and cider with holidays baked goods.
After Tom’s talk, you will enjoy a tour of the Thompson’s historic mansion, decorated for the Christmas season.
Once the tour is finished, head back over to the Welcome Centre and do some shopping at the Hollyhock giftshop for those hard to buy for on your list!
905.722.0560 / firstname.lastname@example.org to book your ticket or if you have any questions.
100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War – WW1 (1918-2018)
Irish Connection to Ruthven
Vintage Halloween Talk with Julia Wright
The origin of Halloween lies mainly with Celtic Ireland with the celebration of the festival of Samhain or Autumn Festival on October 31. Fire was an important part of the event and used to confuse the spirits, but the flames had to be extinguished and re-lit by Druids. Like New Years the notion of casting out the old and moving in the new was part of the celebration. To pagan ancestors, it marked the end of pastoral cycle when crops were gathered and put in storage for the long winter ahead. Also considered the last day of the year, souls departed and returned to their former homes. The late 1800’s was the golden age for postcards. They were cheap and a good way to keep in communication with friends especially before the advent of the telephone.
(Top Photo) Julia Wright guest speaker has been collecting Halloween post cards for many years. Samples from her collection include postcards using popular Halloween images and themes.
Repairs to Stone Walls
The stone garden walls within the Ruthven cultural landscape were recently repaired by Aberdeen Brick and Stone Contractors. The original stone wall running north from the Coach House and built sometime in the late 1840’s is covered under an easement agreement that The Lower Grand River Land Trust Inc. holds with the Ontario Heritage Trust. It was part of a fence system used to keep animals in the original farmyard. The remaining garden walls built sometime in the 1960’s when Andrew Ruthven Thompson was living on the site, are protected through designation with Haldimand County in Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. The purpose of these walls was purely ornamental and designed in the fashion of an English garden.
(Left) The 1840 section of wall was in poor condition. There is evidence of extensive repair carried out on the wall several years ago using Portland cement and lime mortar. Over time it was shifted by a tree that was growing on the west side of the wall and caused it to bulge. For this reason, the tree was removed approximately 10 years ago; however, ivy continued to cover the wall (and disguised the crack in the wall.) The ivy held moisture causing the stone to remain damp and through freeze / thaw periods caused it to crack. Several stones on the east side of the wall were removed and reset in the wall face to restore strength to the structure. Approximately 100 ft. of new mortar joints were added to secure the structure and remediate further moisture infiltrating into the wall. The existing capstones were secured to the top of the wall. They should help to protect the wall from infiltration of water which would migrate down the walls.
The remaining 1960’s garden walls are clay dolomitic limestone which did not have enough compressive strength to resist frost damage. The basic structure of the walls above grade were in fair condition however cracked mortar joints and stones were repaired. Approximately 100 stones were replaced, and new capstones were made to cover all of these walls.
Highlights from Ruthven for the Birds 9th Annual Event
The weather cooperated for the popular Canadian Raptor Conservancy Birds of Prey Show held on Saturday, October 20th. After the show, everyone moved into the Coach House for a talk by Dr. David Brewer on “Everything you needed to know about Penguins”.
Pictured below are some of the birds that were showcased in the birds of prey show; Top row (l-rt) great horned owl, two photos of a red-tailed hawk. Bottom left is a bald eagle, and the right is a horned owl.
In the evening Peter Thoem spoke on “The Owl Foundation a Fly – by night organization?” This was a great segway into the evening owl banding program. Visitors were delighted to see 10 Northern Saw-Whet owls were banded throughout the course of the night. To finish the day off 12 adventurous individuals camped out in the Coach House so that they could be bright and early for morning banding.
The Lower Grand River Land Trust Inc. c/o Ruthven Park National Historic Site
243 Haldimand Hwy #54, Box 610, Cayuga, Ontario N0A 1E0 • 905.772.0560 email: email@example.com
website: www.ruthvenpark.ca THE LOWER GRAND RIVER LAND TRUST INC.
The LGRLT is a non-government, not-for-profit, charitable, community-based organization. The LGRLT has the mandate to protect land for its natural, cultural and agricultural values, as well as for education and research in its jurisdiction.
Wedding Bells have Stopped Ringing for the 2018 Season!
If you spent any time at Ruthven Park throughout the weekends this summer, you likely saw blushing brides and handsome grooms sharing their first kiss by our gazebo, taking photographs of their families blending together on the steps of our magnificent mansion, or partying the night away with their loved ones within the walls of the historic Coach House. One of the great aspects of having a wedding ceremony and/or reception at Ruthven Park is the flexibility that our site offers to couples. Give us a call today for more information on date availability, cost and to set up a site visit with Ruthven’s Operations Coordinator – 905.772.0560 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Coach House can also be used for meetings, holiday parties, hallmark birthdays, showers, family gatherings etc.
WINTER BOOKINGS WELCOME!
Ruthven is excited to announce Diamond status for Wedding Facility and Platinum for Local Tourist Attractions from the Sachem Reader Choice Awards 2018.
Upcoming Events at Ruthven Park
For more information on upcoming events please check out our website www.ruthvenpark.ca , give us a call at 905.772.0560 or check us out on social media; Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The Welcome Centre and Grounds: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Saturday and Sunday closed or by chance.
The Mansion: Reminder that our regular tours of the Thompson Mansion season have come to an end. 2019 season will begin again May 18th. Tours will be offered 7 days a week from May 18 – September 2, tours times 10:00 am, 11:30 am, 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm. Give us a call today or check out our website for more information 905.772.0560 or www.ruthvenpark.ca
Phone: (905) 772-0560
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0