Bird banding is a national program administered jointly by the US Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service to support avian research.
The goal is to apply uniquely numbered bands on the legs of birds to track the distribution and movements of species, their relative numbers, annual production, life span, and causes of death. Each spring, Denver Audubon contracts a wildlife biologist from Bird Conservancy of the Rockies to band birds at our nature center in Chatfield State Park. This is one of the few opportunities in the state of Colorado to experience wild birds up-close-and-personal.
In Spring of 2021, we offered a combination of in-person and virtual educational programs to expand accessibility during the pandemic.
We recorded 435 total individual birds, which is well below the average for all prior years (628). The top 4 species comprised over 50% of the bird count. As in typical years, Yellow Warblers, which nest in the forested areas of Chatfield State Park, were the most frequently caught species.
Meredith McBurney, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies biologist, is assessing the data and working on an official report.
In Spring of 2020, the banding station was closed due to the pandemic. We were fortunate to have Meredith & Bird Conservancy of the Rockies band and record a limited number of birds so we could provide online virtual education. Since the station did not operate fully, the bird data cannot be compared to normal banding seasons.
In Spring of 2019, almost 900 people visited the bird banding station, and we recorded 1,159 individual birds, which is the most ever. Meredith McBurney, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies biologist, thinks that weather played a significant role in the high bird count.
Storms likely caused birds to stop that wouldn’t have otherwise, and cooler temperatures kept birds active for longer each day. The top 5 species comprised over 50% of the bird count. Butter Butts (aka Yellow-rumped Warblers) won by a landslide, numbering 271 and shattering their previous highest count of 114 in 2009.