Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario
Newsletter No. 22, December 2020
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Title image_BECO News
In this newsletter, we feature artwork by BECO staff members, highlights from 2020, and two short grassland bird videos.
Bobolink sketch_Ryan Hill
This sketch of a male bobolink was done by Ryan Hill, one of our 2020 field team. It captures a bobolink in a classic pose, perched on a fence wire singing his bubbly and rambling "R2-D2" song. In less than five months, bobolinks will return to the fields now blanketed with snow and animate Ontario's grasslands.
Despite a late start to the field season and having to limit our field research due to pandemic restrictions, 2020 was still a very eventful year for BECO! Here are some highlights:
  • Four BECO research papers were published in peer-reviewed journals. A full list of our publications is available on our website.
  • Our barn swallows and social cues research paper won the award for best paper of the year in The Canadian Field-Naturalist.
  • We surveyed nearly 600 acres of grassland, monitored 21 eastern meadowlark territories, located and monitored 45 grassland bird nests, and detected 64 bird species at the Grey Dufferin Community Pasture. We are now analyzing data from the last two years to learn more about the effects of pasture management on nesting grassland birds at the community pasture.
  • We created a website about grassland birds with stewardship resources and bird information.
  • We developed new resources for landowners: case studies of successful bobolink conservation projects on farms.
  • We received a two-year grant from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to support the continuation of our grassland bird work.
  • Andrew Campomizzi and Zoé Lebrun-Southcott, BECO senior staff, were keynote speakers at the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association's Annual Conference in February.
  • The Beef Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Sheep Farmers both featured an article by BECO about grassland birds in their provincial publications. You can read the full version here.
Bobolink nest illustration_Kaila Ritchie
This illustration of newly-hatched bobolink young was done by Kaila Ritchie, one of our 2019 field team. About 11 days after hatching, bobolink nestlings are fully feathered and ready to leave the nest, but it takes several more days for them to learn how to fly and they remain dependent on their parents for food for up to a month after fledging.
You may have noticed that we don't send many newsletters and that we don't ask directly for donations often. This isn't because we don't need your support, but rather because most of the time we are buried in data, reports, and manuscripts, or out in the field. As most of you know, BECO is a very small organization and we spend the vast majority of our time on the work we are passionate about, songbird conservation, which often leaves little time for fundraising and communications. Nevertheless, at this time of year, we like to remind our dedicated community of supporters that your donations provide much-needed support and allow us to continue the work we do. If you are in a position to make a contribution this year, please consider supporting our work. Thank you to all of you who have already donated!
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**Kaila's beautiful bobolink nest illustration is featured on our 2020 thank-you card. All donors who provide their contact information will receive a personalized thank-you card by snail mail.**
As 2020, a year like no other, comes to an end, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you for being part of the BECO community; for your involvement, encouragement, inspiration, and steadfast support. Thank you for all that you do for Ontario's songbirds and for BECO.

Here are a couple of very short videos we created this past spring as part of a social media campaign to increase awareness about grassland birds in agricultural landscapes. Watching these young nestlings develop, and knowing the challenges they face to survive, inspires and motivates us to continue our conservation research.
Eastern meadowlark nest video
Bobolink nest video
Eastern meadowlark nest video
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