Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory 

The Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory (KVBO) has been using bird banding as a tool to help better understand migration patterns, longevity, dispersal, and stopover of both breeding and migrating birds at our two locations, the Kalamazoo Nature Center and Pitsfield Station, for over thirty years.

Drop by the Banding Barn (at KNC Camp) daily through October 31, weather permitting and see what species are coming through! Banders will be coming and going throughout the morning each day. 

Banding Update:

This amazing photo was taken September 18 - a great bird banding day at KNC's Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory! Of the 703 warblers banded this year to date, 103 came on 9/18. According to KVBO Director Richard Keith, this marked the first time he was able to have so many species "in hand" at once. Thanks to Kayla Putty for the great photo! Bird banding continues daily until the end of October, weather permitting.

From KVBO Director Richard Keith:
Migration through Sept 15 has been modest at best.  While the 2071 birds of 72 species banded is not low, per se, we have banded only 703 warblers to date.  I feel the weather may not have pushed them our way yet.  In years like this the warblers sometimes just fly right over us and we never do get the numbers we like to see.  I speak of warblers other than Yellow-rumped Warbler which comes in October and travels to a different drum then the rest.  Some October preview birds have been captured recently with singles of White-throated Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Slate-colored Junco.  

Why Band Birds?

Banding birds allows researches to track and monitor migration patterns as wells as population changes. In addition, birds are indicators- they make ideal research subjects for looking at changes in the environment, such as changing climate. We work with and share this data with a multitude of different banding programs and institutions, tracking individual birds from state-to-state and even internationally.

 Banding is done by meticulously trained and certified bird banders. Banding involves recording data such as weight, wing length, age, and gender. Then a small, light weight, band with a 9-digit code is placed on the bird’s leg. Many studies show that the bird is not negatively effected in anyway by the band. Processing a bird takes less than a minute. The bird’s well being and stress reduction are top priority. If the bird is recaptured, we can gain valuable knowledge about how the bird traveled. Learn more about the long journey birds take!


A banding data sheet                                                                                          Some tools of the trade 

Check out the youtube video of KVBO director Rich Keith banding a belted kingfisher at Fort Custer Training Center.

What the KVBO does:
Mist Net Banding

   Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (summer)
   Fall Migration
   "Off-season" Banding (winter & spring)
   Contracted Projects:  Lyme disease study, Cerulean Warbler color-banding
Hummingbird Banding
Nestbox Banding
Bird Surveys
   Spring Survey at Kleinstuck Preserve
   Winter Feeder Survey
   National Projects:  Christmas Bird CountBreeding Bird Survey
   Contracted Projects:  nest surveys, point counts

Following the Ceruleans: Cerulean Warbler Research

Cerulean Warbler on NestCerulean Warbler research conducted spring 2011 at the Fort Custer Training Center (FCTC) included an ongoing survival study, nest observations, and radio-tagging. A single female received a 0.2 gram transmitter several days before she began nest building. Tracking her movements allowed us to make new observations for the species and also to discover how the warbler uses resources at FCTC.
One of the joys of this study was the opportunity to see these birds and their daily habits. If you would like to view a few moments from this season's study, please visit the following links:
Cerulean Warbler 
Video 1
Cerulean Warbler Video 2

Gardening for Hummingbirds

Each year we receive many calls regarding the well being of hummingbirds in our area, and the most important piece of information we can provide inquirers is to create a haven for these beautiful birds in your own yard. 

A successful hummingbird garden will have:
-Well maintained feeders from April-October (instant nectar and red food coloring are not recommended; instead use a mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar)
-Areas that provide cover, perching and preening spots (trees and shrubs, shepherd's hook)
-A water feature (shallow water is best)
-A garden filled with a variety of native flowers favored by hummingbirds (see plant list below)

Suggested Plants for Hummingbirds                                
Red Bee Balm                           Red Cardinal Flower
Coral Honeysuckle                  Trumpet Creeper                                                                  
Spotted Jewelweed                 Eastern Columbine
Canadian Milkvetch                 Royal Catchfly 
Virginia Bluebells                     Fire Pink
Pink or White Turtlehead        Chokecherry
Black Cherry                             Flowering Dogwood
Hackberry                                  Hawthorn
American Holly                         Juniper
Mulberry                                     Oak
Red Buckeye                             Serviceberry
Cranberry Bush                         Horsechestnut

Gardening Tips
- Go native! Native plants are the best providers for hummingbirds as well as many other visitors to your garden
- Choose plants that have a long bloom period and plants that will be heavily blooming in August and September
- Choose plants that are taller with blossoms that point either sideways or downward for easy accessibility
- Plants that have red or orange tubular flowers without fragrance can also be a favorite for hummingbirds 

Kalamazoo Nature Center  •  7000 North Westnedge Avenue  •  Kalamazoo, MI 49009
PHONE (269) 381-1574  •  FAX (269) 381-2557 

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