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Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Bird Banding at Point au Sable: April 29, 2010 by Erin Gnass

As a part of the UWGB Ornithology class field trips, Dr. Bob Howe set up a bird banding station at Point au Sable as a way to teach the class about how and why ecologists study bird species. Upon catching a bird in a mist net, the banding station’s head bird bander (i.e., Dr. Howe), places a uniquely numbered metal band around the lower part of a bird’s leg. The ultimate goal for an ecologist is to recapture previously banded birds at the same or different banding stations as way to gain information about individual species’ sexes, ages, weights, wing and tail measurements, geographic distributions, and migratory arrival and departure times.

Because the primary wave of spring migration has yet to come, we only caught one bird, a female American Robin, during the 2.5 hours of staying at the banding station. While teaching the class, Dr. Howe and Nick Walton banded the bird and performed multiple measurements on the individual.

However, while we were at the Point, we were fortunate enough to find Forster’s Terns, Killdeer, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, numerous White-throated Sparrows and Purple Finches, Swamp Sparrows,  Ruby-crowned-kinglets, Chipping Sparrows, Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Purple Martins, House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, several woodpeckers, and many others!

Our one and only capture, a female American Robin

Nick Walton passing the American Robin to graduate student, Kari Hagenow

Graduate student, Ashley Fehrenbach, holding the American Robin

Graduate student, Josh Martinez, releasing the American Robin

Another special thanks to Kari Hagenow for sharing her photographs.