Kalamazoo Valley Bird Obsevatory logoKalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory 

The Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory (KVBO) has been using bird banding as a tool to help better understand migration patterns, longevity, dispersal, and stopover of both breeding and migrating birds at our two locations, the Kalamazoo Nature Center and Pitsfield Station, for over thirty years.




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Rich Keith                                                    Pronouns: he/him/his                                KVBO Director                                            rkeith@naturecenter.org                             

Why Band Birds?

Banding birds allows researchers to track and monitor migration patterns as wells as population changes. In addition, birds are indicator species- they make ideal research subjects for looking at changes in the environment, such as changing climate. We work with and share this data with a multitude of different banding programs and institutions, tracking individual birds from state-to-state and even internationally.

 Banding is done by meticulously trained and certified bird banders. Banding involves recording data such as weight, wing length, age, and sex. A small, light weight, band with a 9-digit code is then placed on the bird’s leg. Many studies show that the bird is not negatively effected in anyway by the band. Processing a bird takes less than one minute. The bird’s well being and stress reduction are top priority. If the bird is recaptured, we can gain valuable knowledge about how the bird traveled. 

Gardening for Hummingbirds

Hummingbird and Michigan LilyEach year we receive many calls regarding the well being of hummingbirds in our area, and the most important piece of information we can provide inquirers is to create a haven for these beautiful birds in your own yard.

A successful hummingbird garden will have:
-Well maintained feeders from April-October (instant nectar and red food coloring are not recommended; instead use a mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar)
-Areas that provide cover, perching and preening spots (trees and shrubs, shepherd's hook)
-A water feature (shallow water is best)
-A garden filled with a variety of native flowers favored by hummingbirds (see plant list below)

Suggested Plants for Hummingbirds                                
Red Bee Balm                           Red Cardinal Flower
Coral Honeysuckle                  Trumpet Creeper                                                                  
Spotted Jewelweed                 Eastern Columbine
Canadian Milkvetch                 Royal Catchfly 
Virginia Bluebells                     Fire Pink
Pink or White Turtlehead        Chokecherry
Black Cherry                             Flowering Dogwood
Hackberry                                  Hawthorn
American Holly                         Juniper
Mulberry                                     Oak
Red Buckeye                             Serviceberry
Cranberry Bush                         Horsechestnut

Gardening Tips
- Go native! Native plants are the best providers for hummingbirds as well as many other visitors to your garden
- Choose plants that have a long bloom period and plants that will be heavily blooming in August and September
- Choose plants that are taller with blossoms that point either sideways or downward for easy accessibility
- Plants that have red or orange tubular flowers without fragrance can also be a favorite for hummingbirds