Bird Banding with the Urban Ecology Center

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Matt Howenwalter gets a hands-on encounter with a red-winged blackbird. Also pictured is Alex Teske and Jonathon Wallace

Laudato Si’ Project joined Jenn Callaghan of the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park, Milwaukee for their spring migratory bird banding. The purpose of migratory bird banding is to collect data on birds that may be only passing through WI on their way to breeding grounds in Canada. Some of the birds caught at these banding stations are also resident birds and important information like breeding health and age is gathered.

The actual band that is placed on the birds is a unique 9-digit number that will be entered into a federal database. If that bird is caught or found anywhere else in the world, it can be traced back the original banding station. This information is crucial for understanding migratory routes, health, and age structure of bird populations.

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Putting a band on a red-winged blackbird

The birds are captured using a “mist net” which is a fine black net that is barely visible to the birds. These nets are placed in strategic locations near the banding station and capture birds that are flying from place to place. The bander’s will extract the birds carefully and carry them back to the banding station to collect all the data. After they are banded, they are released.

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