Kalamazoo 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 KVBO and government agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations allows individual birds to be tracked as they move throughout North America. Surveys, banding, and parasite sampling allows researchers at KVBO to examine how environmental changes, pests, and diseases impact the distribution and demography of bird species.
Fall Migratory Bird Banding
Banding birds allows researchers to track and monitor migration patterns and population fluctuations. Additionally, birds make ideal research subjects for looking at changes in the environment, such as climate change, because their biology and life history has been extensively studied. The banding process involves recording physical data about the bird, such as weight, wing length, age, and sex, and placing a small, light-weight band with a 9-digit code on the bird’s leg. If a banded bird is recaptured, researchers gain valuable knowledge about where the bird has traveled. Furthermore, KVBO shares this data with a multitude of different banding programs and institutions, which allows individual birds to be tracked across state and international borders.
The Kalamazoo Nature Center’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.
Motus Wildlife Tracking System
The Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory works with bird observatories around the globe to gather data on bird migration routes using the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. Led by Bird Studies Canada, this system uses networked receiving "towers" to detect specialized radio tracking devices on wildlife from up to 15km away and shares these reports with researchers worldwide. A new 2021 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant will fund the installation of 59 new Motus receivers across 8 Midwestern states, Columbia, Costa Rica, and Mexico. KVBO staff will lead Michigan’s efforts in this partnership, coordinating the installation of up to six grant-funded receivers. Additionally, the KVBO team is also installing 4 privately-funded receivers on partner properties and 7 receivers on state lands this year. This expansion of the Michigan Motus network will dramatically increase researchers' abilities to track bird migration across the state. See the power of the Motus system in action and find reports from KNC's own receiver at: https://motus.org/education/.