Photo : Olivia Douhan


Songbird migration monitoring

In this era of rapid human-induced environmental change it is increasingly important to monitor responses in wildlife populations. Birds often serve as the focus of monitoring efforts because of their usefulness as indicators of ecological change.

Every year, billions of birds move between their summer and winter grounds during their epic migration journeys.  To monitor migration, we use a method known as bird banding, which involves catching wild birds with mist nets and applying a uniquely numbered aluminum band.  

Bird banding is a highly effective method as it allows standardized sampling of many breeding populations at single locale during migration, yielding consistent, high-quality data.  Having a bird in the hand provides valuable information, such as the age-structure of populations and information on their stopover ecology, that we could not otherwise get.

Since starting our banding operation in spring 2022 we have captured thousands of birds from over a hundred species.  As our dataset grows, we will be able to obtain populations trends and document shifts in the timing of migration.

As banding allows us to work with a wide array of wild birds up close, we are uniquely positioned to use our banding station as a tool to engage and inform our communities through outreach and education programs.  We welcome visitors to our banding station so reach out to schedule a visit.

Bird banding is considered one of the safest sampling techniques for vertebrates that involves capture and release.  At BBO, we subscribe to the highest ethical standards and always put the welfare of every individual bird first.  

It is a massive undertaking to monitor songbird migration daily throughout the spring and fall. This project is only possible through the dedicated support of our volunteers and donors.

All banding, marking, and sampling is being conducted under a federally authorized Bird Banding Permit issued by the U.S. Geological Survey’s BBL.