Researchers invite public to watch bird banding at Warner Park Nature Center

bird banding
Posted at 3:54 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 19:44:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Every spring, countless birds visit Middle Tennessee during their migration.

This month, Warner Park Nature Center is putting tiny bracelets on some of those birds to track them.

"April is one of my favorite months for bird banding," said Laura Cook, a bird research coordinator. "It's because we have this combination of winter birds who came down here specifically to spend the winter here, like a hermit thrush or the white-throated sparrow we saw, and then we have resident birds who spend the year here, like the cardinal that we caught or the tufted titmouse, and then we have birds that are just passing through like the northern waterthrush."

Last year, they banded 114 birds of 28 species.

Each time a bird is caught, researchers write down information about the bird like its sex, age and species. They share this information with bird banders all over North America.

When a banded bird is caught again, researchers can determine how far it has traveled and its age.

"If we catch it again we can tell how old it is, maybe that it's come back from South America to the same spot or it's a year-round resident," said Sandy Bivens, a longtime bird bander.

While they can use new technology like GPS tags, the researchers continue to put unique aluminum bands on birds because of past success.

In addition to teaching park visitors about the birds that fly through Warner Parks, researchers also tell their visitors about how to make their homes bird friendly. Examples include putting decals on windows to prevent birds from flying into the glass, turning off interior lights at night to help birds safely migrate and keeping cats indoors.

When the Warner Park Bird Banding program started in 1982, it became the first M.A.P.S. or Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship station in Tennessee and one of the first in the southeastern United States. All their bird banders are federally licensed with the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory.

The next "bird banding" at Warner Parks is Saturday, April 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. during Spring Nature Fest.