Band of feathers

Ethan Duke of Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO) retrieves the northern cardinal from the net used to capture it. Duke and MRBO co-founder, Dana Ripper, were at Birds-I-View last week for a bird banding session. They place a band on the bird’s leg and gather information about it before setting it free in hopes of being able to track their travels.

Ethan Duke of Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO) retrieves the northern cardinal from the net used to capture it. Duke and MRBO co-founder, Dana Ripper, were at Birds-I-View last week for a bird banding session. They place a band on the bird’s leg and gather information about it before setting it free in hopes of being able to track their travels.

Learning more about our feathered friends is the goal of the Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO).

Co-founders Ethan Duke and Dana Ripper were at Birds-I-View on Ellis Boulevard in Jefferson City last week to do bird banding.

In this project, they affix small colored bands to the birds so people are able to differentiate individual birds. Then, as= the birds are see again, they documented throughout the year.

Duke said birdwatchers are then able to collect information on bird return rates, longevity, and site fidelity.

“Banding is one methodology used to study birds that gives access to information about birds that can be found in no other way,” he said. “Information such as age, sex, and body condition are difficult (if not impossible) to determine without banding.”

During their work Friday, Duke and Ripper captured two Carolina chickadees, a northern cardinal and a red-bellied woodpecker. Two of the birds were already banded so they marked in their notebook where it was banded and when, weighed them and set them free.

According to scientists, banding has been used for centuries, with the first bands being used on falconry birds or other captive birds so they could be identified and returned if they were stolen or strayed from their owners. Today, millions of wild birds are banded around the world each year.

“In general, a great opportunity to engage people with the natural world is conservation through the medium of birds,” Duke said.

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