Bird Banding at Powdermill

Over the next few weeks, I am going to be starting to volunteer at Powdermill Nature Reserve. This is a great reserve and banding station that is about an hour south of my house and does some really great work. Today was the first time that I went down to help at their banding lab and it was a ton of fun. I am very much looking forward to going down more in the future.

Early this morning, I left Pittsburgh to go down to Westmoreland County and to Powdermill. The rain that was soaking the city made me a bit worried that the banding would have to be cancelled. However, the rain quickly cleared out and, except for a bit of sleet a little later in the drive, we were fine.

Pulling into the parking lot, I was surprised to see people already returning from the mist nets with birds. It was a sign of the great things to come throughout the day.

As the day continued, over three hundred birds were banded and processed! This is a fantastic number which they had only reached one other time this fall. Yellow-rumped warblers were by far the most common bird banded. Well over 80 birds were banded throughout the course of the day! There were also many song sparrows, swamp sparrows, ruby-crowned kinglets, field sparrows, and white-throated sparrows.


A yellow-rumped warbler in the process of being banded. If I had a dollar for every time I entered MYWA into the database today, I would be a very rich man…

Among the more uncommon birds that were banded were a good number of purple finches, an orange-crowned warbler (I could actually see the orange crown as well which was awesome), some white-crowned sparrows, a couple of eastern towhees, a chestnut-sided warbler, two Lincoln’s sparrow, some dark-eyed juncos, a handful of blue-headed vireos, and three winter wrens. Another highlight of the morning, was being able to see and hear a flock of pine siskins which was milling around the property. Hopefully this and the purple finches is a good omen of a great irruption winter to come.


One of my favorite eastern North American sparrows, a Lincoln’s sparrow.

Overall, it was a fantastic morning that was a really great learning experience for me and is something that I hope to do again many times in the future.

A ruby-crowned kinglet, one of many banded today.

A ruby-crowned kinglet, showing that red crown nicely.

A blue-headed vireo.

A blue-headed vireo.

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