Band-a-visitor Station Teaches kids about Bird Data Collection Methods

Nature Canada’s Bird Day Fair was proud to host the Innis Point Bird Observatory’s (IPBO) band-a-visitor station which sought to teach children about wild bird data collection methods. The station proved to be a fun and creative way to engage a youth audience with the data collection techniques used in the tracking of bird populations and their migratory patterns.

At the station, the visiting guest was given a wrist band with a tracking number corresponding to a bird which had been previously caught and released by the Observatory. Visitors could use this number to log on to Nature Canada’s “I was banded” website after the fair and learn about the bird they were matched with.

The visitor’s gender, age and wingspan size were then recorded by a bander, simulating techniques used by scientists in the field. This gave visitors an intuitive understanding of bird banding as they were able to experience the process first hand.

Celia Bodnar, a volunteer with the IPBO and one of the organizer’s of the booth, said younger and older kids were drawn to the visitor banding station.

“The kids loved the idea of getting matched to something like a real bird,” Bodnar said. “Bigger kids were keen to look up what species they were. I even had a few kids request a species that they wanted to be, and one excited boy told me that he already knew he was a bird species he had designed himself.”

Despite the booth’s success, there are still lessons to be learned from the project.

“We need to see how we can get more of the adult crowd in as well,” Bodnar said. “I was a bit surprised that not more people were interested in more details about the science behind the bird banding and migration monitoring that we do.”

The Innis Point Bird Observatory, started in 1982, is part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network and was created to monitor the long-term population characteristics of birds in the Ottawa area. Scientists hope to gain a better understanding of bird migration patterns by combining the IPBO’s observations with data from monitoring stations across Canada.

Check out our suggestions on hosting your own band a visitor station and ideas for other ways to celebrate birds.

Thank you to our guest blogger Dylan Copland for this post. Dylan is a journalist and media specialist living in Ottawa, Ontario. He is currently volunteering with Nature Canada where he is writing about animals, nature and the people who love them. You can reach him at dmcopland@gmail.com and find his portfolio on the web at: dylancopland.wordpress.com.