Field trip gives students hands-on experience with marvel of migration

More than 200 species of birds make the annual migration from Canada to the tropics. University of Windsor students had a chance to study 47 of them this weekend when they went on a full-day field trip as part of a third-year class in ornithology.

Almost 60 students watched migratory gulls and hawks at Point Pelee National Park, documented avian biodiversity at UWindsor’s Pelee Environmental Research Centre and banded migratory birds at Holiday Beach Conservation Area. Enthusiastic students were impressed to learn about the scale of the autumnal migration through Essex County.

“I was surprised to learn that there are such diverse birds so close to us,” said Talia Masse, a biology student who took part in the trip. “It's not just a couple of birds, but flocks of thousands. Bird watching has definitely become a new hobby of mine." 

One of the most exciting parts of the trip was learning from the scientists at the Holiday Beach Migration Observatory.

“My favourite part of the trip was learning how birds are captured, examined, and tagged,” said Bradley Poisson, a biology major.

Another student, Samantha Malette, agreed.

“My favourite part of the trip was seeing how bird banding works,” she said. “It was really incredible to see firsthand.”

The trip was organized by Dan Mennill, a professor in Biological Sciences who teaches the ornithology course. Part of the excitement was introducing UWindsor students to the volunteer scientists in the community who run the observatory, Dr. Mennill said.

“The amount of research being done there was astounding,” said student Matt Battiston. “I had no idea there were so many local people excited about the migration of birds through Windsor's backyard. It really stimulated my interest.”

View more photos from the trip.

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