We have a number of long-term research projects on the go at the marsh; mostly banding birds as a tool to monitor bird migration. Depending on the season we target certain species as well as operate constant effort migration monitoring spring and fall, allowing the marsh to be a candidate to join the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network.

Bird banding provides researchers with a snapshot of migrating and resident bird populations and the Hilliardton Marsh is 1 of 13 bird banding stations in Ontario. When a bird is banded a lightweight aluminum “ring” is placed around one leg of a bird, much like a bracelet. Each band has a 9 digit number that is unique to that bird. Our hope is that our birds will be recaptured during their migration or perhaps when they return to the marsh the following year on their return migration. When a bird is recaptured its band number allows researchers to confirm migration patterns. This information allows us to conserve and protect vital habitats that are important stopover grounds during migration as well as important breeding or wintering locations.

In addition to placing a band on one leg we also record important data about the bird; information like wing chord, mass, age & sex, overall body condition. This information is sent to the Canadian Wildlife Service where it is shared with the US fish and Wildlife service on Maryland where access to the data allows researchers to further look at population trends and advise future conservation considerations.

If you have any questions about banding, please send us an email at [email protected]

Spring and Fall Songbird Migration Monitoring

Since 1996 we have operated as a migration monitoring station; tracking numbers and dates for arrivals/departures of species migrating through the Boreal Forest. We have a very unique observatory due to convergence of several distinct habitats at the marsh. This allows for a great deal of bird diversity and during peak times in spring and fall it is not unusual to see 40-50 different species of birds and days of over 100 birds being banded are common.

Spring banding occurs from the beginning of May until mid-June and fall banding Starts August 1st and runs until the end of October.