Imagine holding a real wild bird in your hand! We have been using bird banding as a way to educate the public about bird conservation and to monitor the breeding bird population in Walker Valley for over sixteen years. Once or twice a week throughout the summer, we open a series of mist nets across our campus to catch, identify, band and assess the birds that are using this area.
Age Group: Any age.
Our banding station is the Council House, which is the open-roofed heptagonal fire pit shelter just a stone’s throw to the south of the main office parking lot. We will set up nets generally 30 minutes before sunrise, and will open them at sunrise. We then check them every 30-40 minutes for 6 hours. It always makes for an exhilarating morning full of surprises.
Bring weather-appropriate clothing, plenty of water, a sack lunch or snacks, binoculars, field guide, camera, and a sense of wonder.
We operate a Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) banding station, with a goal of continuing to monitor the breeding bird population here. For more detailed information about MAPS stations and protocol, please visit www.birdpop.org.
As part of our MAPS research, we are investigating the potential impacts of Eastern Hemlock decline on stream-side birds.
Louisiana Waterthrushes (Parkesia motacilla) and Acadian Flycatchers(Empidonax virescens) are breeding birds associated with headwaters streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Because of its location on the banks of the Middle Prong River in Walker Valley, the banding station at the Tremont is ideally situated for a study of these two riparian species. Louisiana Waterthrushes are obligately riparian, which means they depend on small streams in mature forests for foraging and nesting locations. Acadian Flycatchers are frequently associated with streams and ravines, and in the Smokies they tend to nest in the lower branches of Eastern Hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis). Due to the natural history of these two species, they could potentially be impacted by the decline of the Eastern Hemlock.
If you’re interested in volunteering in our welcome booth at Bird Banding, email [email protected]. Come join us!