Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary is attempting to compile a list of all Bible verses the conservationist banded on ducks and geese since the early 1900s.

Jack Miner was a pioneer in banding migrating waterfowl, starting to clamp bands on birds in 1909 in Kingsville, Ont.

The tagging started five years after Miner founded the migratory waterfowl refuge system by opening a sanctuary for birds. 

In 1915 Miner came up with the idea of putting Bible verses on his bands, after being inspired by a young girl who made a calendar which had a Bible verse written on every day of the year. 

"He suddenly realized that this would be a perfect way to put his biblical verses on the bands and then he would have missionaries of the air. So wherever his birds flew, the word of God would be passed on," said Mary Baruth, the executive director of the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary foundation. 

The early data collected from the work done at the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary was key in the establishment of the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 between Canada and the United States. There was no other government-run tagging system before that. 

Bible band helping hunters 

The bands have been found as far away as Venezuela, and while they help geese stand out in a flock, they also help hunters. 

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An example of the handmade tags Jack Miner made, all carrying verses from the bible. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

"It is a very exciting thing to have," said Baruth. "It's kind of a sacred item to a lot of hunters."

Baruth said a lot of hunters live their life and never get to shoot a goose with a band.

She said a man called the sanctuary after hunting a Jack Miner bird with a band, and told her the band read 'lo I come quickly.'

"So he realized he'd been living this horrible life and he thought this was a message from God, that He was coming any time now to claim him," explained Baruth. "So he turned his entire life around, he became a better husband, started taking care of his children, dropped both girlfriends, he told me, stopped drinking and stopped smoking."

Some of the other scriptures used are:

  • Rejoice in the Lord.
  • God is love.
  • Be not afraid only believe.

Sanctuary collecting tags to honour Miner 

Baruth said the sanctuary is now complying a list of bible verses used over the years.

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One of the bird bands made by hand at the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary. Staff say the messages have had an influence over some hunters who shoot the birds. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

They are asking anyone who has found a band, especially between the years of 1979 and 1990 to contact the sanctuary.  

"We want to continue on his good work, his legacy and continue to bring inspiration to others," said Baruth. 

The sanctuary also wants hunters to share stories from recovering birds with the bands.

Baruth said they are doing all this as it gets closer to Jack Miner's birth which will be commemorated in April 

For more information people can go online at www.jackminer.ca.