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Jackson Hole, WY News

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Professional bird banders keep Kelly research alive

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation takes over long-running avian data project.

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Bird banding

The early scientist gets the bird. Every Wednesday morning for the past 10 weeks the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation bird banding crew rose before dawn to set up mist nets around the Teton Science Schools campus near Kelly.

The 10 nets had to be ready to go by 6 a.m. to catch the songbirds that researchers have been tracking all summer. The Kelly campus bird banding station has operated every summer since 1991, making it the longest-running station of its kind in the valley. It also happens to be one of the longest-running stations to supply data to the global Institute for Bird Populations’ Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship — or MAPS — database, which started in 1989.

Bird banding

Dakota Vaccaro examines a hairy woodpecker captured July 31 as part of a bird banding project by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation at the Teton Science Schools. She records data on the bird’s age, sex and physical condition before releasing it.

Bird banding

A tree swallow receives a leg band. The Kelly station and one at Boyle’s Hill in town supply data to the Institute for Bird Populations’ Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship database. With enough data over many years, biologists can start to observe changes and trends within the avian population and eventually make deductions about the health of the ecosystem.

Bird banding

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation Associate Director Kate Gersh records data and prepares to band a song sparrow. The data is collected during the migratory songbirds’ breeding system, so population trends seen over the years reflect changes in the valley’s ecosystem and well beyond.

Contact Leonor Grave by emailing

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