Graeme Springsong 2016

I’d like you to join me in wishing the very best to the departing Managing Director, Chief Bander, and Founder to the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, Graeme Gibson the Younger.

It was Graeme’s idea – could it be thirteen years ago? — to establish a bird banding station – using ethical protocols that put the welfare of birds above mere counting – on Pelee Island, which as you know is a very important stop on the migration pathway in this part of the world.

Over those years, PIBO has built up a very impressive data base, and is a crucial link in the chain of bird banding stations in North America, and it has put Pelee Island on the map in the world of bird studies. The first work was done by Graeme alone, living in a trailer. PIBO has since added the PIBO cottage and a few amenities, but living conditions are still what you’d call basic. Other staff and volunteers have come on at various times. Sumiko Onishi is now Chief Bander, and we have a new Office Manager, Suzanne Friemann. Our newest board member, Donna Hayes, used to run Harlequin Romances. That’s what you need in the bird banding area: romantic inclinations and happy endings!

Bird banding is one of the few ways we have of knowing whether species are increasing or declining. It is especially important in these days, in which we seem to be witnessing multiple crises in the natural world. Though we are not always sure of the causes, we can certainly see the effects. That is why we on the Board of PIBO support this work.

And it is arduous work. During the season, every day at the same time out at the nets, and then out on the walk, rain or shine. No days off. It’s intense and pressured.

We thank Graeme for his key contributions over the years – for the data gathered so tirelessly, but also for the policy decisions, the protocols, and the excellent and detailed reports. We wish him every good thing in his future life; and, in future, the banding station on Pelee Island will be known as:

The Graeme Gibson the Younger Bird Banding Station. As soon as we identify a plaque maker!

Thank you, Graeme.

Margaret Atwood