The banding station at Hawk Ridge is run daily from mid-August to late November. The station is one of North America’s largest for total numbers of banded hawks and owls, with an average of nearly 3,000 individuals caught each fall. Data from our banding studies include information on raptor distribution, movement patterns, and dispersal, plumage variation, and life span. Additional projects include genetics, contamination such as mercury, telemetry such as with the Golden Eagles and Turkey Vultures, and parasite loads. The banding station is always open to new research projects that will increase our knowledge of raptor migration, life history, and conservation.
The passerine banding project at Hawk Ridge has been operated intermittently since 1982. From 1996-2005, daily passerine banding occurred in the fall. Since that time, the operation has been open on a volunteer basis. In the past few years, we have been training new banders with a long-term plan to run a migration monitoring station on a daily basis from August 15- October 15. As staffing allows, we also plan to start and run a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) project for 5+ years during the summer months. Annual banding totals for the past two years have averages about 2000 passerines banded.
We are just in the startup phase of research projects in the passerine program, but we are beginning a new collaborative project in fall 2014 on analysis of avian stool for bumble bee DNA. The researcher from the University of Illinois hopes to get an assessment of the main avian predators of bumble bees given the stresses on bee populations at this time in the USA.
Starting in 2012, we have conducted public banding demonstrations at the main overlook to increase public knowledge of the banding process. These have been very successful and we plan to continue this vital education part of our mission.
Image Credits: Ryan Brady