Research Within Hullett

​​It is a misconception that Hullett is managed specifically for waterfowl. Other species are given equal consideration, however, waterfowl are a key wetland indicator species and a healthy waterfowl population indicates a healthy wetland.

We have a wide range of research and development happening here at Hullett:

Mallard Tubes

​​The Friends of Hullett take great effort in providing nesting habitat for Mallard ducks. There are 38 mallard tubes installed in the Hullett Wildlife area. During the winter, Wildlife technicians check the mallard tubes, cleaning out old shell fragments or whole eggs, and replace the straw in the tube. Monitoring of active nests and egg counts will take place May-september. 

The malllard nests are surveyed every year and the percentage of success vary from year to year. The percentage vary because the eggs are exposed more to the weather conditions and predators like common grakle.

GIS and GPS in Resource Management at Hullett Marsh
GIS is a computerized information system that records, stores, and analyzes information about the physical features of the earth's surface based on its location. A GIS can generate maps and three-dimensional images of an area, showing natural features like forests, wetlands, as well as artificial features such as roads, bridges and power lines. Many GIS databases are made up of sets of information called "layers". Each layer represents a specific type of geographic data. As an example, at Hullett, one layer may include information on wetlands in the area, while others may contain information on woodlots, fallow fields, agricultural fields, trails, duck box locations, Hullett area boundary, etc. The GIS can include as many as 100 layers and can combine these layers into one image, showing how features relate to one another.

A GIS is designed to accept geographic data from many sources, including maps, satellite photographs, and printed text and statistics. The uses for Geographic Information Systems are vast and continue to grow. At Hullett, management utilizes this information to understand the land and its associated limitations and opportunities. The GIS's ability to communicate complex land-resource information in the form of analysis maps, allows managers to better visualize areas and site-specific issues.

GIS helps in the planning process and can evaluate potential impacts of activities. It also has value in monitoring wildlife resources such as Wood Ducks.

With the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) natural resources can be accurately mapped. The GIS database can then assign values to these natural resources and relate them to other features. For example, once all the Wood Duck box positions have been mapped, data can be added to the corresponding database on the outcome of a nest box for the year. This result can then be compared, statistically, to previous years and to neighbouring boxes. Several years of such data enables managers, with the help of GIS, to discover which boxes continually produce wood ducks and which ones don’t. This information can then be used in deciding which areas new boxes will likely be successful. At Hullett GIS is also used to determine what type of trees should be planted and where, which areas need to be cut and what areas are to be left unmanaged. GIS helps immensely in these decisions and results in enhanced habitat health and improved wildlife habitat.

GIS is a power tool that is used on a regular basis at Hullett. It saves time and enables wildlife values to be accurately measured. From these measurements features can be statistically analyzed and compared to other features and informed management decisions made.

Bird Banding
​Bird banding is an important tool for surveying and managing various bird species from passerines to waterfowl to birds of prey. When banded, a bird then has a unique identity and can be distinguished from any other individual bird. Data gathered at a first capture could be compared to the data in a later capture. Data gathered can include the following: species, location, date, age, weight, wing cord, and gender. Useful information that can be obtained includes survival rates and migration data. With this information, bird populations can be monitored, waterfowl hunting regulations can be set, endangered species can be protected and the effects of environmental contaminants can be assessed.

In Canada the bird banding is coordinated by the Canadian Bird Banding Office (C.B.B.O.), and administered by the Canadian Wildlife Service (C.W.S.). There are a number of banding projects that occur at Hullett. The C.W.S. bands Canada geese and ducks and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (O.M.N.R.) band ducks. Pheasants are also banded by the Friends of Hullett. After the birds have been banded they are released without any harm done to them. The band does not affect them in any way; it is very small, light and made of a weather resistant material.

​When a young bird is banded, it is fitted with a larger band so it will have room to grow. A special permit is needed to band birds with the official bands coming from the C.B.B.O. The C.B.B.O. compiles all the collected data and stores it in a data base and can be obtained upon request.

In addition to the C.W.S. and O.M.N.R. the Friends of Hullett also band birds. Every year the Friends band selected pheasants. These bands are associated with specific prizes. When you return the band and present your $10 ticket stub, you will receive a prize. This is our “Pheasant Challenge” and is held from September 25 to December 1.

Occasionally during wild bird banding programs, some birds will have a second band placed on their other leg. Prize money is given if the band is returned with the appropriate information. This is to encourage people to gather the information and send it to the Canadian Bird Banding Office.

In many cases a banded bird will be found an extensive distance from where they were first banded, or many years after they were first captured. All the information gathered on an individual bird is beneficial to the entire bird species worldwide.

Here is what you can do if you find a bird with a band. If the bird is alive please do not remove the band, the bird could be injured by this process. Data you can record:
1. numbers, in sequence, appearing on the band or bands
2. colors and materials of any bands or markers in addition to a metal band
3. date on which the bird or band was found, or observed
4. exact location the bird or band was found, or observed
5. species, sex and age of the bird (if known)
6. whether the bird was alive, dead, injured, free, or trap died (if known)

If you want any other information regarding bird banding or birds in general, drop into the Interpretive Center here at the Hullet Provincial Wildlife Area. If you come upon a trap out in the Marsh, please feel free to observe, but do so at a distance. The traps are checked twice daily, and the birds will be comfortable even when captive, but coming too close will cause the birds unnecessary stress and reduce the effectiveness of the trap itself.

Bluebird Boxes

​​The Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), is "a member of the thrush subfamily" and can be distinguished from its cousins, the Western and Mountain Bluebirds, by its brilliant blue back and tred throat and chest. The Eastern Bluebird requires areas of "at least 8 ha (2 acres) of old field, hay-field, meadow, or lawn with some of it mowed". Males also need perching spots for proclaiming their territory, such as fence posts or shrubs, and of course water is an essential that should be nearby! (Laubach, R & C. 1998).

Volunteers are needed at the Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area to help the Eastern Bluebird recover from its dramatic downfall that has occurred in the past. By building and setting up boxes in the proper habitat and monitoring them throughout the season, as well as helping to fend off competitors, predators and parasites, the bluebird will thrive! Volunteers are asked to join us at the end of the year to clean out the boxes and trim back overgrown vegetation, in preparation for the spring.

​Bluebird populations have severly declined in the past because of a few factors. Severe winter or ice storms have caused many of them to suffer migration losses. Loss of natural nesting cavities due to cutting of dead or hollow trees has also had an impact. Competition from other, more aggressive species, such as the House of Sparrow and European Starling, is another major problem and still plagues them. Your help is needed if the bluebirds are to return to a healthy population in Ontario.

Making a Bluebird Box10 Features of a Successful Bluebird Box

1. No perch should be attached to the front of the box. This may encourage house sparrows, which are undesirable competitors. 

​2. Entrance holes should be 3.8 cm in diameter for Eastern Bluebirds.
​3. Floor dimensions should be approximately 10 by 10 cm.
​4. Height from the top of the floor to the bottom entrance hole should be approximately 7.5-9.5 cm.
​5. Opening the box should be easy for monitoring and cleaning. Side- or front-opening boxes are easiest to clean, but top opening boxes are easiest to monitor.
​6. Ventilation by means of small holes drilled at the top of the sides or back, or gaps left between the roof and sides or front, should be provided.
​7. Drainage holes drilled into the floor or space left between the floor and sides are needed.
​8. Attaching the box to a tree or post should be easy. Remember to keep it at about three to four feet above the ground and within the proper habitat.
​9. At least ¾-inch-thick wood should be used to build with to provide adequate insulation from the sun.
​10. The roof should overhang the entrance hole by at least 2.5-5 cm to keep out rain and shade the entrance. (Stokes, D & L. 1991.)

Monitoring Blue Bird Boxes

In order to gauge the success of bluebird boxes, they need to be monitored for use. At Hullett, we document if the box is used, by which species, and how many eggs are present at the time of monitoring. The following information is useful in determining species use:

Eastern Bluebird: The 1-4 inch tall nest is built with fine grasses or pine needles with a fairly deep nest cup. Eggs (4-6) are powder blue or occasionally white.​​​

Tree Swallow: Their nest is also made of grasses but they may use somewhat coarser fibers than a bluebird. The nest generally has a flatter cup than the bluebird's and is usually lined with feathers or occasionally scraps of paper. Eggs (5-7) are white and smaller than those of a bluebird.

House Wren: Wrens fill a nest box with sticks and line the deep nest cup with fine plant fibers or feathers. "Dummy nests" without the nest cup are often built in all other cavities within the male wren's territory to reduce competition for resources. The eggs (6-8) are tan, speckled with brown and quite small.​​

Black-capped Chickadee:​​ Chickadees build a nest of moss and plant down with the nest cup lined with hair. They lay 5-8 white eggs covered with brown speckles. Eggs are often covered with moss when the female leaves the box.

House Sparrow: House sparrows build a tall nest of coarse grasses, often with pieces of scrap paper, cellophane, or other garbage. The nest forms a canopy with a tunnel-like entrance to the 5-7 cream-colored eggs with brown markings.​​Adopt-a-Box

The Friends of Hullet are re-introducing the “Adopt-a-Box” program to monitor and maintain the 300+ Eastern Bluebird boxes on the property. We encourage local volunteers and groups to come and check boxes on a weekly basis during the nesting season. Adopting a bluebird box will involve: repairing boxes as needed, recording observations (such as species use, number of hatchlings, etc.), removing parasites from hatched bluebirds, and removing used nests from the boxes. For more information about the Eastern Bluebird, or if you would like to adopt some bluebird boxes please contact the Hullett Office at (519) 482-7011 or​​