Kalamazoo Valley Bird Obsevatory logoKalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory 

The Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory (KVBO) is a program of the Kalamazoo Nature Center that is over 30 years old!  Collaborative research between the KVBO and government agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations allows individual birds to be tracked as they move throughout North America.



Current KVBO research areas include:

  • Songbird census monitors seasonal bird abundance and distribution, nesting behavior, and population fluctuations over time.  
  • Songbird banding measures migratory birds' age, sex, and health to better understand migration patterns, longevity, dispersal, and stopover of both breeding and migrating birds. 
  • Diagnostic sampling tests birds for various pathogens, viruses, and parasites that can impact reproduction and survival. 
  • Ectoparasite sampling studies the distribution of and abundance of tick species that spread diseases to both birds and humans.  


Contact Us

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



Fall Migratory Bird Banding at KNC!

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. 

KNC's bird banding efforts are part of the national Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program coordinated by the Institute for Bird Populations. Learn more.

Fall Banding Update September 2020:

Late August to early October is the period most insect eating warblers move through lower Michigan.  Of the 40 species found in Michigan, 38 have been banded here over the years and 26 so far this year.  So far 2020 has seen warbler numbers greater than in recent years.  Please review the attached list to see them all.  A few standouts are Bay-breasted Warbler at 111, far above average. Tennessee Warbler at 170 and Ruby-throated Hummingbird at 221 are good for this time in the season. Philadelphia Vireo at 6 may seem like a small number but most years we are lucky to capture 1 or 2.  A real surprise was a Green Heron in our nets.  This species is much larger than our nets are designed to capture and this was only the second in 47 years.