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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Bird Banding and Streamside bird research

Monitoring breeding bird populations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Bird Banding and Streamside bird research

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 ten years. Once 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. Previously, we inventoried the presence of endo- and ectoparasites on each species – that is, blood or feather mites. Now, 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 As part of our MAPS research, we are investigating the potential impacts of Eastern Hemlock decline on stream-side birds. Louisiana Waterthrushes (LOWA, Parkesia motacilla) and Acadian Flycatchers (ACFL, 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. LOWA's are the only obligate riparian songbird species east of the Mississippi, and they depend on small streams in mature forest for foraging and nesting locations. ACFL's 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. More information on this project can be found at:
Bird Banding and Streamside bird research



Topic - birds, banding, nest monitoring, territory mapping, habitat analysis

Audience - Any age

Location - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN, USA

Goals - education, research, breeding population monitoring


Parent Project:

 Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship



 National Park Service

 Institute for Bird Populations



 Tiffany Beachy, Citizen Science Coordinator, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont email Tiffany Beachy


Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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