Learn about birding with banding program

A Great Blue Heron sets on a dead tree at the James M. Robb Riverfront State Park-Connected Lakes Section. The Grand Valley Audubon Society is opening its annual bird-banding station to the public at the Fall Birding Festival to be held Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Audubon Nature Center, 610 Dike Road (adjacent to Connected Lakes State Park).

Birds, youngsters and imaginations are all caught in the mist nets strung around the Grand Valley Audubon Society Nature Center.

The nets, which are finely woven traps made to harmlessly snare passing birds, are among the attractions the public can enjoy Sept. 25 when the local birders open their fall banding operations to the public.

The banding program is a collaborative effort among the Grand Valley Audubon Society, Colorado Division of Wildlife and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.

Now in its ninth year, the banding station will operate through Oct. 15.

This is true “science in action” as migrating and native birds are captured, measured, weighed and banded.

Last year, the station banded 292 individual birds representing 25 different species.

Since its inception, the banding station has welcomed nearly 6,000 Mesa County fifth-graders for an “up close and personal” experience with wildlife, said Karen Levad, society president.

More than 800 students will visit the station this year, Levad said.

It’s also “citizens in action,” as it takes many hours of volunteer effort to make this festival a success.

Many of the Grand Valley Audubon Society’s 450 members are sharing in the fun, collecting birds from mist nets, answering questions from visitors and even entertaining the lively fifth graders with nature walks around the Lucy Ferril Ela Sanctuary.

“We have such fun with the fifth graders, and have enjoyed teaching them about local birds, that we wanted to open the banding station to the public,” Levad said.

Because bird banding is an early morning occupation, the Audubon Society has marked from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25 as an open house.

Visitors can watch the banding operations as well as see demonstrations on owls of western Colorado, falconry, the ABCs of birding and tips on using binoculars and spotting scopes.

There also will be nature walks and a self-guided scavenger hunt around the Nature Center property.

The Nature Center is on Dike Road just before the gate to Connected Lakes State Park.

“We’ve got great things happening at our Nature Center and we want folks to come and enjoy it,” Levad said.


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