Pleasant weather graced the volunteers and observers on Saturday morning at BioCore Prairie. The Bird Observatory there has operated for several years, so it has a following of regular volunteers who are ably led by Jackie Sandberg, Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Coordinator at the Dane County Humane Society's Wildlife Center. Ten of the volunteers came on Saturday to assist Jackie with putting up mist nets, checking them at regular intervals, extracting birds, and then banding them and collecting data on species, age, reproductive status, molt, and morphology. Five nets, set up in the northeast corner of the prairie, yielded nine birds of five different species: House Wren (1), American Goldfinch (3), Gray Catbird (2), Common Yellowthroat (1), and Song Sparrow (2). In all, 24 bird species were observed, including Cedar waxwings and Red-tailed hawks that frequented the trees and sky above us. With boundless enthusiasm, Jackie provided expert information on banding and bird measurements. We were also visited by several rabbits and caught a glimpse of two weasels darting across the trail and into the prairie.
Only three people came to observe in response to the Friends’ promotion of this event, but several more paused on their Saturday morning walks through the Preserve to learn a little more.Bird banding at the Preserve is conducted most Saturdays during the summer. To learn more, contact Jackie Sandberg.
The Bird 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. The Observatory is a permitted research project approved through the UW-Madison 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 18th 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.
The Biocore Prairie Bird Banding Observatory in Madison, Wisconsin is currently managed by three volunteer coordinators.
This warm, calm Sunday morning was perfect for observing native pollinators. Susan Carpenter, Native Plant Gardener at the UW Madison Arboretum, was a knowledgeable guide and good role model for the 20 potential citizen scientists who attended the hike. Susan explained that her expertise in native pollinators grew incidentally out of her work with native plantings. Working with the DNR, she has begun to promote and train volunteers for the Wisconsin Bumble BeeBrigade, which seeks to expand our knowledge of this crucial species guild.
Susan led us past the rain gardens by the Picnic Point entrance and up to BioCore Prairie, taking ample time to stop and observe the five species of bumble bees we encountered along the way. She explained the life cycle and behaviors of several different bumble bee species and discussed threats to their existence, as well as ways we can help sustain them. Friends host and photographer: Paul Quinlan
The 4th Sunday of the month Bird and Nature Outing at Lakeshore Nature Preserve featured What is a BioBlitz led by Paul Noeldner with help from Pat Becker, Doris Dubielzig, and Olympia Mathiaparanam with Friends of the Lakehore Nature Preserve. About a dozen participants including a couple kids learned why scientists do BioBlitzes to get a holistic picture of an area's biodiversity and ecosystem health. Then everyone joined Bug, Critter, Plant and Habitat teams (anyone could help any of them) to help find and count as many different living things as they could along the Picnic Point path, from a Catbird singing in a Sumac bush to a Monarch on an Ironweed and a Leopard Frog jumping into a trailside rain garden full of bright red Cardinal Flowers in full bloom.
Someone would shout New One! whenever a different new living thing was spotted, and the Recorders for each team would jot down the name of the species if known on a large tagboard, or a description or drawing of the color, number of legs, and similar details for the team Researchers to try to look up the species if not known. The Photogs in the group helped take pictures to document the findings. There were many interesting things to see and talk about and examine with binoculars or a magnifying hand held loupe. The group only got 500 feet down the Picnic Point path in about an hour, as might be expected. A scientific Bioblitz might go for 24 hours and involve lots of skilled researchers and specialists as well as opportunities for Citizen Scientists including families and kids to help spot things.