Since 2017 the Trust’s Bird Conservation Team along with its partners (the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, Project Owlnet, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve) has been working tirelessly to establish what is now the world’s second largest array of the Motus Wildlife Tracking System’s automated radio telemetry stations. Motus is a collaborative research project that uses a network of receiving stations to track the movements of birds and other small flying animals tagged with miniature radio transmitters. This cutting-edge technology has transformed our knowledge of bird migration. Watch this fascinating presentation from the Trust’s Bird Conservation Team to hear what researchers have begun to learn and how these discoveries can be shared to help further bird conservation in your community. Recorded on September 10, 2020.
Did you notice more birds than usual this spring around your yard? Watch the video of this this virtual event held on July 7, 2020. Our Bird Box Team discussed the birds you might have seen nesting around your yard this summer and covered the basics of bluebird box monitoring and maintenance. We also had a special guest and bluebird expert, Ken Leister.
On May 14th the Trusts’ Bird Conservation field team held a virtual flappy social hour. They shared short talks about ways you can support migratory birds while remaining socially distant. The talk ended with a casual Q&A session. 52 people signed in! If you missed it and want to learn how to promote bird conservation in your backyard and beyond, click here to watch the recorded session!
- Did you know that the average adult needs 15 coffee trees per year? By choosing where your coffee comes from and how it is grown, you can help protect our birds that overwinter in the tropics.
- Did you know that cats have been determined to be the number one cause of bird declines and that we could save billions of birds by keeping cats inside?
- Did you know that our agriculture is becoming toxic to birds? Many chemicals that are used to coat seeds remain with the plant for its entire life and persist in the environment, despite what the chemical companies say.
- Did you know that 9 in 10 seabirds have been found with plastic in their stomachs? By reducing plastic use, we can help our oceans and the creatures that inhabit them.
- Did you know that there are over 48 million acres of lawn in the U.S? By changing how we view these spaces our lawns can actually contribute to bird conservation in a big way.
Explore these topics and more in our Flappy Hour recording.
After peeling yourself out of bed in the pitch black of pre-dawn in deliberate disobedience of your circadian rhythm, you wander through the dark to the bathroom where you reluctantly flip on the light and stand blinking into the mirror with owl sized pupils. You go through the motions of getting yourself dressed, quiet as a mouse so as not to wake your sleeping significant other. Finally you creep to the kitchen to adeptly pour coffee into your thermos without spilling a single precious drop even though the light from the east is still woefully dim.
When you get to the preserve, it is near dawn. The air is fresh, and the trees are alive with tinkling chip notes of migrant birds. As you get to work setting the nets in the hedgerows, you take comfort in the sound of an Eastern Screech Owl singing its haunting song down in the lower woods. You smile as the familiar catbird belts out its harsh petition for the sun to rise now. Above you, a rainbow stretches from one lavender cloud to the next and now you remember what it means to be a part of nature.
Billions of birds now have their sights set somewhere over that rainbow as they travel south by starlight. Our bird banding operation at Rushton Woods helps us monitor which migrants are using our specially managed preserve, understand how long they spend here preparing and fueling up for the journey, learn about populations and lifespans, and study their movements.
This fall has been excellent so far with a catch most days of 90-100 birds despite the warm weather we’ve been experiencing. Some highlights have included Connecticut Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Nashville Warbler, and Worm-eating Warbler. Some of the most abundant species include Gray Catbird and American Goldfinch.
Songbird Banding Open House is Tomorrow Morning (9/14) from 7-10:30 am at Rushton Woods Preserve
Come on out to observe our bird banding, see incredible migratory birds up close, and chat with field scientists.
There’s a lot going on in the woods,
Fall migration is just around the corner. And that means the banding station at Rushton Woods Preserve will be back in operation.
Bird banding is an important and powerful scientific tool in bird conservation. Understanding our reasons for banding and being able to relate those reasons to the public, along with proper training and the maintenance of high scientific standards is necessary for the success of our banding/outreach program.
Rushton Woods Preserve (RWPR) lies within an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA), offering a great opportunity for banding and allowing us to study the seasonal and long term population patterns and species diversity of migratory and breeding birds. The RWPR banding project contributes to continent-wide monitoring efforts and exemplifies the benefits of low-impact land management practices on bird populations. The RWPR station also allows us to train committed volunteers in the basics of bird banding and creates a setting for responsible nature education and conservation outreach.
In 1595, one of Henry IV’s banded Peregrine Falcons was lost in pursuit of a bustard in France. The falcon showed up 24 hours later in Malta, 1,350 miles away; thanks to banding, they were able to calculate that the falcon averaged a speed of 56 miles per hour. Duke Ferdinand placed a silver band on a Grey Heron around 1669 and the bird was then recovered by his grandson in about 1728, indicating that the heron had lived at least 60 years. In 1803, John James Audubon tied silver cord to the legs of a brood of Eastern Phoebes near Philadelphia and was reportedly able to identify two of the nestlings when they returned to the neighborhood the following year.
These centuries-old records are not only amazing, but gave inspiration to naturalists and scientists interested in understanding the mystery of migration. Today, bird banding is helping to answer questions not only about migration and longevity, but also site productivity, dispersal of young, metapopulations , site fidelity, survivorship, behavior, ecotoxicology and many other population ecology questions important to bird conservation and management around the world. In North America, banding is overseen by the US Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Laboratory (within the Department of the Interior) and the Canadian Wildlife Service. These offices issue federal permits, distribute bands, and compile all the data collected from bird banding. All of the data collected at the RWPR is sent here and is made available to researchers and other banders. Learn more at https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/history.htm.
If you would like to observe the banding process and learn about the science, banding activities at the Rushton Woods Preserve banding station are open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays. See our events calendar for dates, time, and other details.