Saturday, December 16, 2006

John Miles

We are sad to annouce that on December 13th, 2006, John Miles, head bander at HBO's Selkirk banding station, passed away at the West Haldimand Hospital in Hagerville, ON.

The arrangements for John are in the Friday December 15th Hamilton Spectator. Visitation will be at Cooper Funderal Home Sunday 2-4, 7-9, Cooper Funeral home 19 Talbot St W, Jarvis. Funeral service, Monday 10 am Cooper funeral home.

There has been a series of emails circulating, written by some of the many people who had the opporunity to enjoy John's company, learn from him, and experience his passion for birding (and banding). I have posted these emails below, and encourage you to read them, as they provide some understanding of the great work that John did as a bird bander, and the great human being that he was.

I will continue to post any emails that I get about John, so check back for updates to this list. If you would like to say something about John through the blog, email it to
jeffreymacleod@gmail.com . Also, we would love to see some pictures of John at work banding birds. If anyone has them, please send them to the email address above and I'll post them on this blog.

Beginning with the announcement from Nancy Furber:

  • Hello, our computer has been down for the past two days and I was unable to contact anyone. Now, it is with great sadness that I need to share that John Miles passed away yesterday evening - December 13, 2006. His transfer to Norfolk General Hospital, Simcoe was delayed (possibly to a bed shortage) so he was still at the West Haldimand Hospital, Hagersville. We wish to extend condolences to his family and friends with the loss of a wonderful gentleman. His presence will be greatly missed. Nancy Furber

  • Yes, it is a very sad thing.The very first "organized" birding hike I ever went on (as an early teenager) was lead by John - I learned how to discriminate among the "confusing fall warblers" under his tutelage.He had an amazing memory for birds, birding, birders and banding. He could recount the date and year of rarity sightings; he could remember how many birds of which species in which season he had banded; his knowledge of bird lore was encyclopedic. And he was very willing to share it with any one who had an interest.He had a tremendous drive and energy for banding. He would, in some seasons, start Spring banding in late February and end in mid-June only to start up the Fall season in mid-July and run through to mid-November in order that any migrant that could be banded was banded. This regimen entailed so many very early mornings, a long walk into his banding site (at Selkirk) and out again, and then afternoons and evenings of entering the data. Day after day, year after year. It's hard to appreciate this level of commitment without having done it.He was a major collaborator in the formation and development of Haldimand Bird Observatory (HBO). The organization benefited from his wide knowledge of other organziations with which he'd been involved, and from his fund-raising efforts - he was a major money-raiser through the Baillie Birdathon initiative.I will always picture John taking a break at the picnic table having processed a batch of birds and looking forward with that anticipatory eagerness in his eyes to the nets filling again. He could never get enough. Rick Ludkin

  • John was a good friend, a willing ear, and never hesitated to offer additional information. At a meeting last night, I was asked a historical Long Point question and my first thought was "I'll email John and find out". Sadly, those days are gone and I will miss him. Cindy Cartwright

  • This is such sad news - I visited John's banding site on several occasionswhen I was in Toronto for work. He was such a nice old boy and he gave me myfirst opportunity to band a Northern Saw-Whet Owl - I arrived at the stationa little before dawn and went in to John's trailer to find a bird bag on apeg - he handed it to me and said 'present for you' - I heard it snapping inthe bag and knew what it was - he was just a really nice guy and I'll neverforget him banding with a bird in one hand and a cigarette in the other!! -he was just such a character. This is as sad news for Canadian banders aswhen Chris Meade died for English banders - they just don't make them like those guys any more!!Another reminder to make the most of every day and to really enjoy ever bird- Happy winter banding! Derek J. Matthews - Vancouver, B.C. Canada

  • John Miles was a caring, and sharing individual, and just a really nice guy. I'm sorry to see him go. Allen Chartier

  • I feel so bad about John's passing. He was unique in his passion for banding. I think if the fall season had been longer, he still might be with us! He and I used to compare notes between Braddock Bay and Selkirk and he was always quick to point out any misconceptions I had about Canadian geography or Canadian banders! I will really miss him. Betsy Brooks.

  • We regret to inform you that we lost a friend yesterday and our profession lost a dedicated Field Ornithologist and mentor to many. John Miles contracted pneumonia after enjoying his most successful fall season. John was an old fashioned field biologist who did evrything the proper way and was on site in order to be open a half hour before sunrise every possible day during the migration - despite having a 45 minute commute to get there. His professional ethics and sharing of knowledge will stand as a shining example for us all. John had been in a local Ontario hospital since shortly after the fall season and was not doing well; he was anticipating transfer to a larger facility. Today we received the following:

    Hello, our computer has been down for the past two days and I was unable to contact anyone. Now, it is with great sadness that I need to share that John Miles passed away yesterday evening - December 13, 2006. His transfer to Norfolk General Hospital, Simcoe was delayed (possibly to a bed shortage) so he was still at the West Haldimand Hospital, Hagersville.
    We wish to extend condolences to his family and friends with the loss of a wonderful gentleman. His presence will be greatly missed. Nancy Furber

    John will be greatly missed as both friend and colleague! He was so proud of this season's accomplishments and we are happy that he went on such a happy, personal high.

    John & Sue Gregoire Field Ornithologists Kestrel Haven Avian Migration Observatory
  • I was shocked when I found out that John Miles had passed away. I learned of it from the latest BSC Newsletter that I looked at this sunday morning.. I was thinking about him the other day . John and I go back a long way to the Hamilton Junior Naturalist's Club in the late '50s. I did some banding under John's leadership in the 60's at Long Point. We will miss his birding and banding expertise. Ted Dinniwell

1 comment:

mon@rch said...

He was a great man! Still hard to believe!!