I grew up with the luxury of frequent visits to the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory (SBBO), a large banding station in North Central Illinois. I learned about the banding process and how to properly hold, band and release birds.
Not everyone has been fortunate enough to see bird banding first-hand. The banding demonstrations during the Biggest Week in American Birding by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) was a great way to show others this amazing research process.
The awesome BSBO folks Kim Kaufman (Executive Director), Ken Keffer (Education Director) and Mark Shieldcastle (Research Director) did a spectacular job of answering questions and explaining the importance of banding research.
Some Common Questions:
Does the band hurt the bird?
The band does not hurt the birds in any way. It is just an information bracelet and causes no Physical harm to the bird.
Doesn’t this stress the birds out?
It does stress them out a little, but they have made an incredible journey; some came from as far as South America. They are tough birds and this critical research helps us know how to conserve their land. Banders watch for signs of stress and ALWAYS put the birds’ health first.
Can I pet the bird?
Petting a bird is not advisable. Because feathers are so important, birds must spend some time maintaining them (preening). Most birds have an oil gland and use their beak to put that oil on their feathers. The birds time is better spent on finding food than replacing those oils.
Bird banding demonstrations are a key way to involve new birders and get them interested in conservation. It allows people to learn more about the research and gives newcomers a look at what they can find in the area.