Ohio Spring Birding Part I: Bird Banding
In May 2022 Apryle and I had the the opportunity to observe Tom and Paula Bartlett banding birds on Kelleys Island and at Springville Marsh. I was first exposed to bird banding at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado back in spring of 2013 and found it to be an interesting experience. Bird banding provides useful data for both scientific research and land management practices. According to USGS, banding individual birds allows for observation of dispersal and migration, behavior and social structure, life-span and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth. Because of the netting and handling, banding can be stressful for birds, but the overall data collected ultimately makes positive impacts in the longterm survival of many species.
Growing up in Tiffin, Ohio, my dad said for many years that I should link up with Tom Bartlett (a Tiffin resident) because he is an avid birder and master bird bander. Tom has banded a over 100,000 birds since 1971. His consistency and longevity over the years is truly a source of inspiration for me in terms of contributing to conservation. He has served as a mentor for numerous banders-in-training, as receiving your bander’s license requires coursework and an intense apprenticeship. Tom is a research associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and his banding data provides insight into the biodiversity of habitat and coupled with the work of other scientists, reveals migration routes of birds.
Tom has been banding on Kelleys Island since 1996 and as of 2021, he has banded 23,704 individuals of 122 species. Kelleys Island is located in Lake Erie’s western basin, four miles north of Marblehead (on the mainland). Although the island is only four square miles it is the largest American island in Lake Erie. Apryle and I reached the island by ferry and camped at the state park in order to be ready for early morning birding.
Specifically, Tom sets up his mist nets at the restricted Jones Preserve on Long Point. The Jones Point Preserve is a 21 acre parcel that was donated in the late 1970s. It is a vital stopover point for migratory birds, particularly warblers, prior to crossing Lake Erie. We accompanied the team of banders as they removed birds from the mist nets and then assisted with data entry for each bird we captured. A number of measurements help researchers ascertain the body condition, age, and species of the birds. Following the banding of the birds, we snapped a photo and released them back into the wild. Tom and his team prioritize each bird’s wellbeing and go to every measure to minimize stress on the birds.
Following our Kelleys Island birding adventure, we again accompanied Tom and team at Springville Marsh with bird banding. Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve is 201 acres making it the largest inland wetland in northwest Ohio. Despite the uniform agricultural and industrial disruption in the area, the marsh has persisted in much the same way that it has since the last ice age. There is abundant ground water consisting of calcium-rich springs which nourishes the unique plant life and bird life. Therefore, it is a great place to bird band in the springtime, which is what Tom has done since 1984. The mist nets were set up on the boardwalk with a few in an adjacent woodland. Although we saw many of the same species that we saw on Kelleys Island, there were many different species that prefer marsh habitat.
Overall it was an incredible experience and Apryle and I are very grateful to Tom for allowing us to join in on the banding experience.
|Great Blue Heron
|Eastern Screech Owl
|Great Crested Flycatcher
|Black-throated Blue Warbler