Banding Birds for Research

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Banding Birds for Research

Categories: Blog, Garden Guru, Newsworthy

Staff from the Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO) spent Super Bowl Sunday at Powell Gardens’ Conservatory banding birds that were captured in special mist nets outside by the feeders.  The birds banded received special colored leg bands so that individual birds at the feeders can be differentiated.  Visitors who now come visit our “Feather Your Nest” conservatory display can not only relax in the beautiful spaces and watch the birds outside but help keep record of sightings of our color-banded birds.  This way we can track individual birds visiting the feeders now and well into the future.
Visitors to the gardens on Sunday were treated to a first hand experience with wild birds.  Dana Ripper, Director of the Missouri River Bird Observatory holds a Black-capped Chickadee and allows a young visitor to touch the soft plumage.

Brittney Woody, assistant at the MRBO, removes a Tufted Titmouse from the mist nets while Dana watches.  We banded 6 Tufted Titmice and there were still others without bands visiting the bird feeders. Several of the banded birds were observed coming right back to the feeders that day too!  It will really help us get a better count of titmice that otherwise look alike at the Great Backyard Bird Count here on Sunday, February 19.

Here the Tufted Titmouse gets his band on his leg.  The bands weigh virtually nothing and research has shown that the birds with bands tend to be more successful as they are favored by others of the species!
Now it’s time to measure the Tufted Titmouse’s wing.  Various measurements, weight, and health were noted on each bird before it was quickly released.  This is obviously our black-banded Tufted Titmouse!

Here Ethan Duke (Assistant Director of the MRBO) holds a Black-capped Chickadee to show its new red band.  We banded 10 Black-capped Chickadees and still saw others at the feeders without bands — there were far more chickadees coming to our feeders than I had thought!

We caught and banded five American Goldfinches, the males are still more yellow than the females in winter but nothing like their bright yellow plumage of summer.

We only caught one woodpecker: this male Downy Woodpecker with gorgeous black plumage complete with white polka dots!  Only males have the red on the back of their head.

I am interested to observe our banded birds at the feeders this winter and wonder if we’ll see any of them nest or spend the summer in the garden.  We caught one bird that was banded here by Craig Hensley last winter — but put a color band on it too so we can track it with binoculars now.

We will have Dana and Ethan from the Missouri River Bird Observatory back at the Gardens for some continued banding of the Powell Gardens’ birds so keep watch of these events if you want to see a wild bird up close and personal.

Photos by Roland Thibault