Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Birdathon 2022

The birds of spring are back, and we know you’re as happy to see them as we are. The yellow flash of a goldfinch in the lilacs; the conkla-ree! call of a red-winged blackbird in the cattails; the bluebird with a beak full of caterpillars bound for a nest box filled with hungry hatchlings. For KNC’s Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory (KVBO) it’s been our mission to track the seasonal ways of birds since 1974. Since then, we’ve logged and banded more than 500,000 of them. Our record of continuous research makes KVBO one of the nation’s longest running inland bird banding programs.

To continue this good work, we’re seeking to raise $20,000 for this year’s Annual KVBO Appeal. That’s about 13 percent of our annual budget, which like everyone’s budget, has been buffeted by rising inflation. Whether you’re a long-time supporter or newcomer, we assure you that every dollar matters. Yet because we don’t toot (or Tweet) our own horn often, you might not know that KVBO does much more than band birds. And, that our impact expands far beyond our birding stations in Kalamazoo and Vicksburg.

In fact, KVBO staff have built 18 Motus towers (motus is Latin for movement) that stretch in a line from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie – more than 300 miles. The 18 to 24-foot tall towers monitor birds that carry tiny transmitters known as nanotags, each with its own ID. The towers are spaced about 18 miles apart, which allows KVBO to track nearly any nano-tagged bird that flies on their migration route through southern Michigan. The towers beam their data to the Birds Canada National Data Centre, which leads this international research collaborative.

Closer to home, your pledge of support helps KVBO’s staff stay active in the community. As a new research season gets underway, KVBO will again send a team to the 31st annual Southwest Michigan Team Birdathon. Our Catbirders team consists of John Brenneman, Brenda Keith, Rich Keith, and Todd Alfes. For the Birdathon, they’ll embark on a day-long trip to Berrien County on Saturday, May 14th. They expect to encounter 100+ bird species in this annual competition to identify the county’s spring birds. A pledge of $2 per species — $200 total – would be a great way to celebrate the Catbirders’ achievements!

The data, from both Motus towers and our bird-banding operations, has proven invaluable to research at the national and international level. Because healthy ecosystems are crucial to birds’ well-being, the knowledge gained through KVBO research helps guide important decisions about which species need special care and attention.  Your generous donation provides for the supplies, equipment, facilities, and staff that are critical to the KVBO. Thanks again for your timely support, and we look forward to sharing our 2022 Birdathon results with you in June.