Bird Banding in Cuyahoga Valley

One of my jobs here at Cuyahoga Valley National Park is to assist with the pilot season of the park’s Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) bird banding station. About every ten days this summer I and other employees of the resource management office go out and operate the station. Following the MAPS banding protocol, birds are safely sexed, aged, measured, and weighed. This information cannot be obtained by other methods of bird monitoring, so bird banding is particularly valuable to researchers. In addition, the MAPS protocol is standardized across banding stations throughout the United States and Canada (there are over 1300 MAPS banding stations). As the Cuyahoga Valley banding station continues to operate over the years, banded birds will be recaptured which provide information about avian survivorship. Ratios of fledgling birds to adult birds are also collected which lend information on avian productivity. The birds that are particularly interesting to band in the summer season are those that migrant to Central and South America in the winter. When the park finds these birds again next summer, we will know that they travelled all the way down south and made it back to breed in Ohio. Some favorite birds I’ve seen at the banding station so far include Hooded Warblers, Scarlett Tanagers, Blue-Winged Warblers, and White-eyed Vireos. The first bird I banded was an American Goldfinch and the first bird I held was a Black-Throated Green Warbler. Learning how to safely handle these delicate animals is an amazing feeling and I’m so excited to learn more. 

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