Two Birds ‘Recovered’ at Spring Banding Stations

By June 27, 2013Education, Science

The spring 2013 bird banding season was an eventful one, with a total of 1,341 birds banded between RMBO’s stations at Chico Basin Ranch and Chatfield State Park in Colorado. Plus, both stations had a “recovery”! A recovery is when a biologist recaptures a bird banded at another banding station, which provides crucial data to biologists about bird migration patterns. Less than 1% of small songbird bands are recovered. Below are summaries and photos from both RMBO spring banding stations:

Chico Basin Ranch

RMBO Biologist and Banding Coordinator Nancy Gobris banded 661 individual birds encompassing 68 species at Chico Basin Ranch, located 35 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, Colo. These numbers were slightly lower than previous years, since overall migration was a bit late this spring. Nancy noted nine Long-eared Owls and three Gray-cheeked Thrushes as highlights from the season, along with the recovery of a Yellow-rumped Warbler. This tiny bird weighing only a half-ounce was originally banded in Mackenzie, British Columbia, on Sept. 4, 2012. Yellow-rumped Warblers can breed as far north as Alaska and winter as far south as Central America.

Blue-winged Warbler

This was the second-ever Blue-winged Warbler caught at RMBO’s banding station at Chico Basin Ranch. Photo by Steve Brown.


Gray-cheeked Thrush

RMBO bander Nancy Gobris holds one of three rare Gray-cheeked Thrushes banded at the ranch this spring. Photo by Steve Brown.


Long-eared Owl

What a beauty! This Long-eared Owl was one of nine banded at Chico Basin Ranch this spring by RMBO. Only four Long-eared Owls were banded at the ranch in 2012. Photo by Bill Maynard.

Chatfield State Park

RMBO Biologist and Bird Bander Meredith McBurney caught 742 individual birds encompassing 56 species at the banding station at Chatfield State Park, located outside Littleton, Colo., this spring. Swings in weather, such as an April 1 snowstorm, brought a record number of Hermit Thrushes and Orange-crowned Warblers to the station, in addition to lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers (both Audubon’s and Myrtle subspecies). Ten percent of the birds captured at Chatfield this spring had been previously banded by Meredith, including a Yellow Warbler that is now at least 9 years old! Meredith’s list of “coolest” birds from the season included a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Black-and-White Warbler, Nashville Warbler and a banded Broad-tailed Hummingbird, previously captured and banded in the fall of 2010 in the Davis Mountains near Fort Davis, Texas

Yellow Warbler

Priceless! Mason Dornfeld reacts after touching a Yellow Warbler for the first time at RMBO’s banding station at Chatfield State Park. Meredith McBurney (on the right) is RMBO’s bander at Chatfield during the spring. Photo by Ed Dornfeld (Mason’s grandfather).


Broad-tailed Hummingbird

On May 15, Meredith caught a male and female Broad-tailed Hummingbird in the same net – the male was already banded! Data from the USGS Bird Banding Lab indicated it was originally banded in the fall of 2010 near Fort Davis, Texas. Photo by Jordan Spalding.


Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers were a beautiful and common sight at Chatfield this spring, including this Audubon’s Warbler, one of two subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warblers found in Colorado during migration and the summer months. Photo by Emily Snode.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Meredith holds a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Although not out of place like most rare birds, this species has experienced ever-declining numbers in Colorado, and its nature makes the cuckoo hard to find. Photo by Barbara Van Horne.


Yellow Warbler

Chatfield is a nice stopover spot for migrants, but for many birds it is their summer home. Half of the recaptured birds this season were Yellow Warblers, such as this one; 25% of all “the Yellows” caught this spring had been previously banded by RMBO. Photo by Barbara Van Horne.


Snowy Spring Morning

Snow on May 1! This photo of Meredith, taken the morning after the snowstorm, embodies the crazy spring weather this season. Photo by Lucinda Miller.


Child Releasing Bird

Kids of all ages were thrilled by the experience of releasing a banded bird back into the wild. Daniel, seen here, is releasing a bird. RMBO provides educational programs to the community at its banding station at Chatfield State Park in partnership with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver. In 2012, the station was renovated by University of Colorado students and has proven to be both beautiful and effective. Photo by Bob Knapp.

Thank You for the Support!

A special thanks is owed to Ed Warner and Jackie Erickson, the Norris Family Foundation, Morgridge Family Foundation, Adams County Open Space, Scientific & Cultural Facilities DistrictChico Basin Ranch and Audubon Society of Greater Denver for providing funding to help cover the costs of educational programs, Chatfield State Park and all of our volunteers for helping make RMBO’s spring banding season possible.

~ Emily Snode, School Programs Coordinator