Participating is as easy as 1-2-3
- Go birding at the Union Village Dam (Thetford) or the North Branch Nature Center (Montpelier) this summer–take your friends.
- Record your observations of both unbanded and color-banded Song Sparrows and Gray Catbirds (and all other birds too, of course).
- Report your sightings directly to Vermont eBird.
Where and when can I see color-banded Song Sparrows and Gray Catbirds?
VCE is collaborating with the North Branch Nature Center and the US Army Corps of Engineers at the Union Village Dam (Thetford, VT). Starting the last week of May, VCE and North Branch Nature Center will color-band Gray Catbirds and Song Sparrows at these two locations. At the Union Village Dam, we will focus our banding efforts on the Mystery Trail area (map here). There will likely be color-banded birds present through autumn. Birds tend to move around after breeding, so you you never know where a color-banded sparrow or catbird might show up.
How do I record my observations of Song Sparrows and Gray Catbirds?
Make sure to check out our guide to reading color bands on birds first. While birding at the North Branch Nature Center or Mystery Trail area of the Union Village Dam, simply write down the total number of Gray Catbirds and Song Sparrows that you encounter–just like any birding jaunt. Then describe the order and color of the bands that you observed on any banded catbird or sparrow that you encountered [see below for an example].
OK, I saw a color-banded Song Sparrow, now how do I contribute my birding observations to this project?
Simple. This project is exclusively using Vermont eBird for data reporting. New to eBird? Check out this quick tutorial. Report your checklist like you normally would to Vermont eBird when birding at the North Branch Nature Center [use North Branch Nature Center hotspot] or Mystery Trail area of the Union Village Dam [use the Union Village Dam Rec. Area/Buzzel Bridge Rd. hotspot]. In the observation comment box for Gray Catbirds or Song Sparrows describe the different color-banded birds that you encountered. Describe all color-banded birds: even if you were unsure of the colors or if you only saw some of the color bands. Even better, the new eBird media upload tool allows you to easily add photos of color-banded birds directly to your checklist. Alternatively, you can send your photos directly to Jason Hill. Click on the pictured eBird checklist below for an example.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can I contact for more information about this project?
Please send all inquiries to Jason Hill.
How many Gray Catbirds and Song Sparrows will you band?
Approximately one dozen of both species at both locations.
How often can I report observations of color-banded Gray Catbirds and Song Sparrows?
As often as you like!
I took a photo of a color-banded Gray Catbird or Song Sparrow–would you like to see the photo?
Yes, please! Send photos of the birds and/or your birding party to Jason Hill. We may feature your photos on our website.
Why Gray Catbirds and Song Sparrows?
Gray Catbirds and Song Sparrows are a good choice for the first year of this project–they are easy to identify and have relatively easy-to-observe tarsi.