Inspired in part by the Dark-eyed Junco Winter Movements project idea, the Sitka Bird Banding project (SBBP) got started in fall 2012.
Introduction and Initial Banding
Over 4 days in late November 2012 visiting bird biologist and certified bander Gwen Baluss along with a small group of volunteers banded 97 birds at three locations. Banded birds included
- 78 Oregon Dark-eyed Juncos
- 6 Slate-colored Dark-eyed Juncos
- 4 Chestnut-backed Chickadees
- 4 Song Sparrows
- 2 Golden-crowned Sparrows
- 1 each of Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow
The Oregon juncos, chickadees, and Song Sparrows were all given color bands in addition to the standard aluminum band. These colors varied by location, and in some cases individual birds can be identified by the arrangement and colors they were banded with. Our hope is to track the movements of these birds between feeders over the winter. With luck, there may be sightings of banded nesting birds next summer and maybe again at feeders next winter.
Over this winter and beyond, we will be collecting observations of banded birds, and mapping the locations where they are seen. For this project we are hoping for the help of as many people as we can get. Anyone who is observing birds, especially Dark-eyed Juncos is encouraged to fill out our on-line banded bird observation form with your sightings. We also have paper forms available if you would prefer. Download printable pdf to pint one. Even if you are not seeing any banded juncos among those you observe, that will be good information for us, as it will let us know that juncos are being seen, but our banded juncos have not traveled that location.
One of our goals is to end up with a map of how far these birds travel over the course of their foraging for food. This will help us better understand how far songbirds range about in Sitka.
Gwen has returned each fall (through 2018), banding additional birds each year. A list of color-banded birds and color combinations is maintained here.
How you can help
We would like to get as many observations as we can over the next few weeks of winter and beyond. To this end, you can help.
If you are see Song Sparrows, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, or Dark-eyed Juncos (and especially the juncos) - please check them for leg bands and note the pattern of colors on each leg. The aluminum band is always on the bird's right leg, so that can help orient for reporting purposes. If you see no birds with bands, this is also useful information, as it is evidence that the banded birds may not be present where you are observing. For each observation, make note of the date, time, and location.
Pages with observation tables and maps are updated as sightings are submitted on-line. (Paper sightings will be collected and added to the database periodically and will then show up in the results as well.)
To see links to each of the pages with results for the different color-band combinations see SBBP color groups.
You can also query the sightings here Special:RunQuery/SBBP_query
All observations (including initial captures and subsequent sightings and observations with no banded birds (black and white markers) ) are shown on the map below:
Red markers are banding locations
If you would like to report any color-banded birds, please use our on-line banded bird observation form
If there are any further questions, feel free to contact Matt Goff (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Sitkabirds e-mail listserve (email@example.com).
Support for this project has come from the following:
- Gwen Baluss traveling to Sitka with banding equipment and spending several days banding birds
- Sitka Charitable Trust providing funds for Gwen Baluss travel through a grant to Sitka Sound Science Center
- Sitka Conservation Society and financial support as well as staffing for the Science Mentor program allowing SHS student Naquioa Batista to work on this study as her project
- University of Alaska Southeast providing space for a presentation about bird banding
- SitkaNature.org with data and website support.
- Many other individuals who have helped with the banding or reporting banded birds