A Tribute to Our Metro Denver Banding Station Volunteers
Our Barr Lake (fall) and Chatfield (spring) banding stations are complex operations.
They open early every morning—six days a week—over five weeks during spring migration and nine weeks in the fall. Approximately 20 nets are checked every half hour and the captured birds carefully and safely removed. The birds are brought to the station to have species, age and sex determined, measurements taken, amount of fat estimated, leg band attached, etc. Birds are released within an hour of the time they were caught. But that’s not all! We also host groups of visitors—students of all ages during the week, families on weekends—wanting to learn about birds and see them up close. In recent years, we’ve added additional tasks, like collecting feather samples that are used by researchers to study bird migration and inform conservation.
Some of our outstanding volunteers, showing off the t-shirts awarded for their dedication during the time of COVID-19
How do we accomplish all this with just two staff—one bander and one educator? The answer is we don’t.
We are able to do all this because we have what may be one of the world’s best volunteer crews. Four to six volunteers join our two staff people each day to execute the various tasks necessary to run an efficient, effective and safe banding and education program. They arrive at the station at sunrise to open nets and don’t leave until about 12:30, after all birds are processed and the last net is closed. Depending on skill and experience, volunteers process birds, record data, remove birds from the nets, educate visitors, take photos, chase away raptors and racoons, replace nets destroyed by deer, and trim branches to keep net lanes clear. Perhaps most importantly, they keep everyone sane with their good humor.
Their flexibility, creativity and resilience were particularly valuable during the COVID-19 crisis. Providing group activities—even outdoors—posed significant challenges. Our volunteers helped us modify our protocols and programs to meet health and safety requirements. Incredibly, with the the exception of spring 2020, we were able to run almost normal banding operations and continue our education programs through a mix of very small group and virtual education programs.
As of 2022, we have 35 banding station volunteers that range in age from 12 to over 80. Some of them started in the last year or so; a few have been with us for over a decade— and one for more than 25 years!
A heartfelt thank you to the following regular volunteers who donated their valuable time in support of Bird Conservancy in 2021!
Page and Cairn Carr
Melissa Greulich (Belmar)
Megan Jones Patterson
James Skip Link
Casey Iris McCarthy
Santiago Tabares Erices
E. Anne Whitehurst