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  • Bird Monitoring Programs

Regional Science Center

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  • Bird Monitoring Programs

    The Regional Science Center participates in two national bird monitoring programs. These programs involve a large number of volunteers.


    FeederWatch is a cooperative research project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada, the National Audubon Society, and the Canadian Nature Federation. Over 15,000 citizen scientists now participate. The project is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders in backyards, nature centers, and schools throughout North America. Participants periodically count the highest number of each species they see at their feeders from November through April. Birds are counted two consecutive days once every two weeks. FeederWatch helps scientists follow movements and numbers of winter birds and identify long term population trends in bird distribution and abundance.

    Who may participate?

    Anyone with an interest in birds may participate in FeederWatch at the Regional Science Center's Buffalo River Site. Training sessions are held to familiarize volunteers with identifying, counting, and recording birds that visit the feeders.

    Bird Banding

    The Center participates in the National Mapping Avian Productivity and Survivorship project through its Buffalo River Bird Monitoring Station. During monitoring sessions, caught birds are removed from the mist nets, measured and banded, assessed in regard to condition of the feathers, their sex, weight, age, and other important measurements. The data is then recorded and the bird released.

    What is the Buffalo River Bird Monitoring Station?

    The purpose of the Buffalo River Bird Monitoring Station is to pursue long-term monitoring of breeding songbird populations in a twenty-hectare study area along the Buffalo River. The station is open seven summer mornings from sunrise to noon. Monitoring occurs by capturing birds with mist nets and by conducting breeding birds surveys. Captured birds are identified, aged, sexed, and released. Free-flying birds are surveyed to determine their breeding use of the study area. By combining both sets of data, a breeding bird list may be compiled and populations analyzed.

    How does the station operate?

    The Buffalo River Bird Monitoring Station is a registered MAPS (Mapping Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program. The station operates under the rules established by MAPS.

    Where is the station located?

    The Buffalo River Bird Monitoring Station is located at the Buffalo River State Park and the MSUM Regional Science Center's Buffalo River site east of Glyndon, MN.

    Who operates the station?

    Operation of the site is coordinated by MSUM Regional Science Center staff. The rest of the crew is comprised by university students and volunteers.

    Why monitor birds?

    • Birds are important environmental indicators.
    • The data gathered helps illustrate our local bird population demographics.
    • It offers an exciting educational opportunity.
    • The data is contributed to a national bird monitoring effort.

    How can I get involved?

    The Regional Science Center is seeking volunteers interested in working at the bird monitoring station. There are open positions for bird banding assistants, greeters for open houses, field surveyors, and computer data processors.