RAS Sponsors Bird Research
Since 1998, Richmond Audubon has provided funding and person-power to study the breeding success and adult survival of songbirds. Our site is one of over 1,300 North American locations set up to learn why birds breed successfully (or why they don’t) and why adult birds survive from one year to the next.
MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) – is the national program coordinated by the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP). Former MAPS sites include Westview and the Powhatan Wildlife Management Area, however, since 2007 Dutch Gap Conservation Area has been maintained as a study site. Dutch Gap is overseen by Master Bird Bander, Bob Reilly, who helps keep banding permits up to date; however, banding operations are run by Julie Kacmarcik.
What do Julie Kacmarcik and the Audubon volunteers do to study the birds? Each Spring in the very early morning, they capture the birds in mist nets, band the birds with a lightweight, numbered aluminum leg band, and then examine them. The volunteers collect information on age, sex, body condition, and reproductive status. Wing examination, for instance, can help to determine the bird’s age and whether or not it has begun fall molt. Once all the necessary information is gathered, the bird is released unharmed. Subsequent recapture data provides information on survival, reproductive rates, and sometimes, movement patterns. The Federal Bird Banding Laboratory regulates the overall operation to assure that birds are handled safely and data are recorded accurately.
In 2017, Julie and her team also began Fall migration banding in addition to their summer work. They expect this work to continue this year and for many years to follow.
Over the 33 years the Institute for Bird Populations has coordinated MAPS, they have made a variety of interesting and useful findings:
For more information about MAPS results visit the The Institute For Bird Populations website.
Special Thanks – to all the MAPS volunteers, their families and friends for their support, to Chesterfield Parks and Rec, Richmond Audubon Society, Dominion Energy Virginia, and Smurfit Stone in Hopewell for contributing to our efforts.
Male Prothontary Warbler
Photo by Julie Kacmarcik