Delaware Nature Society Program Guide and Newsletter September - December 2017 - Page 6

Bird Conservation By Ian Stewart, Ornithologist and Joe Sebastiani, Ashland Nature Center Manager These are exciting times for our Bird Conservation Program! Thanks to generous support from a host of donors and help from a dedicated team of volunteers, we are continuing our public bird banding sessions on Mondays at Ashland and Wednesdays at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Many people of all ages have come by to see birds up close and observe the banding process. We are also continuing to color-band Eastern Bluebirds at several of our sites as part of a study of nest box faithfulness and overwintering status. This is a Citizen Science initiative in which members of the public let us know when they have seen a color-banded Bluebird and, in some cases, send us the color-band combination of their bird or even a photograph! Birds of conservation such as the Wood Thrush will benefit from our exciting new study. Last winter, we cleared Multiflora Rose, an invasive exotic plant, from five half-acre plots at Bucktoe Creek Preserve, and we are currently comparing which birds feed and nest in the cleared plots compared to plots where the invasive rose bushes were left in place. We will be continuing this study into the fall and winter to focus on habitat use by both migrating and overwintering birds. Our short-term aim is to see whether this simple habitat management benefits birds, but our long-term vision is to replace all of these alien plants with a diversity of native plants to provide better homes and food for birds. Thanks to your support, we are better able to understand the habitat needs of our birds and help them as much as possible! Visit DelNature.org/BirdBanding to learn more. Our notable achievements Showed that several species live in the same area year-round... by banding birds during the summer then recapturing the same individuals in the winter. Birds we caught during both the summer and winter in the same location include 17 Tufted Titmice, 10 Carolina Chickadees, 7 Song Sparrows, 6 Cardinals, and 5 Downy Woodpeckers. Recaptured several migrants in successive years in the same location. The summer visitors we have recaptured include a Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo and several Gray Catbirds, and the winter visitors include both White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows. It never ceases to amaze us that these small birds (some less than 20 grams) may spend their summer or winter over a thousand miles away and yet still come back to the same relatively tiny piece of land! Observed 10 of our 178 color-banded Bluebirds during the colder months, confirming that at least some of them spend the whole year in the Red Clay Valley. Published articles about the presence of ticks on banded birds... and documented the capture of a Black-capped Chickadee, the northern counterpart to our common Carolina Chickadee which only comes south when food is in short supply. Incorporated bird banding into the popular Young Ornithologists camp. This is one of the most important things we do – encouraging an interest in birds among young people who may end up being their future conservation champions! Conducted surveys of wintering birds at Coverdale Farm Preserve... to see how our current land management practices are affecting bird populations. Coverdale Farm Preserve Photography by Joe Sebastiani 6 NATURE EXPLORER Sep – Dec 2017