Breeding Bird Studies
Early Studies of Birds
Biocore Prairie Bird Observatory
Biocore Prairie Bird Observatory
The Observatory, originally founded in 2001 by Dr. Mara McDonald (1947-2016), is an all-volunteer bird banding operation that monitors bird populations in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Banding offers a wonderful opportunity for people to see birds up close, learn about their migration and nesting patterns, and understand how natural areas enhance their biological success. Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome to attend banding operations on Saturday mornings from 7 am - 12 pm between the months of April and September each year (weather and schedules permitting). Volunteers are taught species identification, mist-netting procedures, handling techniques, and basic banding procedures. We are currently entering our 17th year in operation, and we are excited to have you with us!
Banding requires significant time and experience by those who are licensed and authorized to capture wild birds. At the Observatory, a master bander supervises and trains volunteers, including UW students, staff, retirees, and members of the Madison community. Each bird is caught in a mist net, carefully removed, measured (weight, age, sex, and a variety of other measurements), banded and released. Between 2001 and 2006, more than 1394 birds of 70+ species were netted. About 60 million birds, representing hundreds of species, have been banded in North America since 1904, and about 4 million bands have been recovered and reported. Data from banded birds are submitted to and managed by The North American Bird Banding Program which is under the general direction of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Objectives of the Project:
1. To follow changes in the bird species composition with changes in prairie restoration.
2. To provide a research and teaching resource for natural history studies utilizing live animals.
3. To collaborate with Dr. Janet Huie, Carthage College, on collection of ticks associated with Lyme Disease.
The Biocore Prairie Bird Banding Observatory in Madison, Wisconsin is currently managed by three volunteer coordinators, and we would like to take this time to introduce ourselves:
Dr. Mark Berres (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) has resumed the director position at the Biocore Prairie Bird Banding Observatory. Mark received a B.S. in Genetics and Cellular Biology at the University of Minnesota - St. Paul in 1994 and a PhD in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003. After completing a postdoc in Genomic Sciences at UW-Madison, he accepted a faculty position there and taught Ornithology, Birds of Southern Wisconsin and Avian Physiology from 2005 to 2016. Mark now conducts bioinformatics research in the Advanced Genome Analysis Resource Center at the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center. His ornithological experience dates back to 1990, including international and domestic work with passerines and non-passerines, especially manakins, hummingbirds and Red Jungle Fowl. He possesses the Observatory's primary USGS Master Banding Permit.
Jackie Edmunds (M.S. CBSD) is the Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Coordinator at Dane County Humane Society's Wildlife Center. Jackie began volunteering at the Observatory with Dr. Mara McDonald in 2010 and has held a bird banding sub-permit since 2013. She received her BS in Zoology and certificate in Environmental Studies in 2011 and and a Master's of Science in conservation biology and sustainable development in 2016, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her M.S. thesis studied the survival rates and home range of rehabilitated and released Red-tailed Hawks. She holds additional advanced state and federal wildlife rehabilitation licenses.
Dr. Matt Hayes (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) has an extensive background banding cranes and songbirds at Biocore Prairie. Matt received his BS in Zoology from Eastern Illinois University in 1998. He started working with Sandhill Cranes as part of a long-term study at the International Crane Foundation in 2000. He completed his Master's of Science in Biology at the University of South Dakota in 2005 and his Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. His PhD dissertation studied dispersal behavior of breeding and subadult Sandhill Cranes in south-central Wisconsin using radio telemetry and color band re-sightings and throughout the Eastern Population from Minnesota to Pennsylvania using genetic relationships among sample sites.
Volunteers usually band birds at least one morning each weekend, weather permitting (above 50 degrees, no precipitation), from late March-April through early November. A master bander, supervises and trains volunteers, including UW students, staff, retirees, and members of the Madison community. Each bird is caught in a mist net, carefully removed, measured (weight, age, sex, and a variety of other measurements), banded and released.
Past and present volunteers include Pat Becker, Richard Clark, Katie Fitzmeier, Rachel Hart, Kendra Johnson, Anjan Kaushik, Anne Lacy, Roma Lenehan, Jeff Lorch, Holly McEntee, Sarah Pabian, Gaylord Plummer, Nolan Pope, Wilma Ross, Dietrich Schaaf, Jerry Simmons, and many others.
Between 2001 and 2006, more than 1394 birds of 70+ species were netted. The most commonly banded species were Song Sparrow (184; 15.2 % recapture rate), White-throated Sparrow (158; 7.6%), Gray Catbird (117; 12.8%), American Goldfinch (109; 3.7%) and Chipping Sparrows (63; 1.6%). Fourteen species of warblers, including Connecticut and Mourning, and 11 species of Sparrows, including Lincoln’s (20), White-crowned (4) and Fox (4) were banded.