Bird Banding: A Perfect Mix of Education and Research

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.

Lee Johnson: Master Bander and founder of the SBBO
Birdfest 2009 - Bird Banding

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.

Showing off Baltimore Orioles
Dakota Banding Orioles

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.

Ken Keffer (left) with a Red-winged Blackbird and Mark Shieldcastle (right)
Banding Demonstration

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.

Kim Kaufman with a White-crowned Sparrow
Kim Kaufman - White-crowned Sparrow

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.

Mark Shieldcastle with a Magnolia Warbler
Mark Shieldcastle - Magnolia Warbler

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.

Dakota with a White-throated Sparrow
Dakota Banding White-throated Sparrow

2 thoughts on “Bird Banding: A Perfect Mix of Education and Research

  1. I don’t seem to have trouble accessing your blog through my workplace (IE8 on WinXP, which is what I had at home until recently.) I’ll try deleting the blog from my Google Reader & see if that fixes it again. If not, I’ll try Firefox.

  2. I recently learned about a banding program not far from my area. I’m going to TRY to attend the 1st session, at least (it’s already getting too hot to go out much here.)

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