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Hands-on Bird Research Happening at North Branch Nature Center

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Photos of Chip Darmstadt and birds by John Lazenby.
Someone demonstrates bird banding at the North Branch Nature Center summer 2021. Photo by John Lazenby.

Over the summer, staff members at the North Branch Nature Center on Elm Street have been meeting just after dawn every week or so to band birds. Executive director Chip Darmstadt said the idea is to monitor the local bird population in terms of survival and reproduction rates. That information is then combined with statistics from banding spots around the country to provide an overall picture of the avian population. Nets set up around the nature center capture birds in flight without harming them. Then birds are removed from the nets and a small, numbered metal band is placed on one leg (if the bird has not been previously banded). The birds are weighed and measured and all the statistics taken down for future use. Then they are quickly released. These photos show Darmstadt in action, banding birds on a recent morning. “Basically, you get a readout on the vital statistics of the local population,” Darmstadt said. Songbird banding has been completed for this season, but there will be some banding of saw-whet owls in the fall.

Chip Darmstadt, holding a little bird, shows off his own band — a wedding band — at the North Branch Nature Center summer 2021. Photo by John Lazenby.