Migratory Song Bird Surveys (mist net and bird banding study)

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Through this project BBEMA is partnering with the Morell River Coop to conduct a three-year bird banding project to compare migratory songbird population densities, species diversity and habitat usage in relation to stream side plant community composition within two of Prince Edward Islands largest sub-watersheds — data analysis for which will help identify habitat needs, enhancement guidelines and subsequent restoration plans/techniques applied by volunteers/landowners. Banding data will help to identify critical habitat areas, develop conservation plans and guideline that can be applied (in partnership with agricultural landowners to restore riparian habitats and/or preserve stream corridors for native migratory songbirds.

This monitoring program will incorporate using mist nets/bird banding to track the movement of migratory songbirds within riparian zones.  Migration is the most energetically demanding phase in the annual cycle of a migratory bird. The decline of North American migratory songbird populations is a growing concern throughout the continent. Conservation of avian migratory habitats has become especially challenging within heavy agricultural based regions — vegetative fragmentation of these remnant habitats (sometimes less than 15% of the landscape) makes stopover habitat a limiting resource for migrant Neotropical landbirds. Riparian zones are important migration corridors for migratory songbirds, especially in intensively farmed areas. They provide important stopover areas for the resting, feeding, and watering of migrating songbirds that have depleted energy reserves. Yet, historically, riparian habitat restoration in landscapes dominated by agriculture on PEI has been aimed at reducing soil erosion and agricultural runoff.

Additionally, the project will facilitate learning connections through the development of an Avian Environmental Education program for schools and youth groups which provides an engaging educational experience, fostering awareness and appreciation of birds and the environment – incorporating well-established scientific based field research bird banding becomes a teaching tool. Through on site demonstrations and volunteer banding training workshops, BBEMA and Morell will partner to help to educate the public about scientific research, about the conservation of special habitats and about the vital role birds’ play in the environment. These banding demonstrations will serve to encourage the community members to be better observers. Scholarly research and scientific findings may be of little use if the public is not informed or if they simply don’t care. Educational banding can bridge the gap between scientific research and public awareness.

Depending on the group involved, this project offers several components to the Avian Environmental Education program.

1) Site visits to its banding station — includes hands-on demonstrations – participants learn about the entire banding procedure, beginning with watching staff extract birds from mist-nets and process them, and ending with participants releasing birds

2) In School presentations to teachers, students and youth groups

3) Information on Bird Friendly school campuses and gardens.

*The program includes a field trip to BBEMA’s Banding Station where students are introduced to the research techniques required for monitoring migratory birds and the population ecology and ecosystem dynamics of wild bird populations, in an age specific way. Students will learn about bird migration; the various habitats and communities they depend on during both spring and fall migration and the breeding season; and the conservation actions required to protect these habitats to ensure the long term survival of bird species.