The annual bird banding at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary begins Saturday.
The public is welcome to drop in any time between 7 and 11 a.m. on four Saturdays from April 27 through May 18 to learn from the researchers exactly how it is done.
Bird banding is an age-old technique used to discover details about the lives of birds. Scientists who have both federal and state permits - and plenty of training and experience - capture the birds in "mist" nets, so-called because they are so fine they are almost like mist.
The Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary will host bird banding demonstrations Saturdays from April 27 through May 18. Those participating may have the opportunity to hold a wild bird, like the male American Goldfinch pictured above.
Dr. Scott Stoleson, Emily Thomas and Don Watts will lead the bird banding.
Those who visit Audubon for one of the demonstrations can accompany researchers on net checks and watch the weighing, measuring, collecting of data and photographing of the birds. Some participants will be selected to help release a bird.
Stoleson is a professional ornithologist who has published more than 50 scientific papers on ecology and conservation of birds. He has conducted avian research in the western United States, Central and South America and has led natural history tours to the Caribbean and Latin America. He is the research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station lab in Irvine, Pa.
With a master's degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State, Thomas was a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service and is employed as an instructor in wildlife technology at Penn State DuBois. She learned how to band in 2005 and has banded more than 4,000 birds. She holds a master bird-banding permit and is a certified bird bander by the North American Banding Council.
Watts has been the biological technical assistant for the United States Forest Service in the Allegheny National Forest. A master bird bander, he monitors the American Kestrel Nestbox trail in Warren County, was a participant in the first Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas and regional coordinator in the second, and a participant in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service breeding bird surveys for more than 20 years.
Bird banding will take place at the picnic pavilion on the west side of the Audubon property at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile off of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. Look for the sign at the entrance closer to Route 62.
Participants are reminded to dress for the weather. While not necessary to enjoy the demonstrations, those participating may want to bring bird guides and binoculars. Plan to listen closely to the scientists and follow their instructions carefully, as safety of the birds is the priority.
Audubon offers these demonstrations to the public free of charge, but donations are accepted.
Audubon hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays. The trails and Bald Eagle viewing are open dawn to dusk. For more information, call 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.