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.