Power To Be is grateful for the opportunity to publish this blog, written by Jannaca Chick of Rocky Point Bird Observatory. Our partnership with Rocky Point Bird Observatory supports the ecology, conservation, and management of North American songbird populations.

Rocky Point Bird Observatory (RPBO) is a non-profit organization that seeks to influence and inform ecological management practices and conservation of migratory birds in western North America through monitoring, research, and public education. RPBO has been a member of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN) since 2001. Members of the CMMN track the migration of Canada’s birds in the spring and fall each year, adding to our knowledge of population trends, demographics, phenology, and other essential information about the species that pass through each location. Most CMMN members are small non-profit organizations that depend on large numbers of motivated volunteers and donors.

In 2020 we approached Power To Be about the possibility of starting a banding project on their Prospect Lake site. They graciously welcomed us, and we started a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) station there in 2021. MAPS is managed by the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) which is located in California. MAPS provides critical information relating to the ecology, conservation, and management of North American songbird populations and the factors responsible for changes in their populations. The timing of MAPS in the late spring and early summer enables stations to monitor breeding birds and their young in each area and track their survival rate. We not only band birds, but also record all the species seen and heard, noting their breeding status using specific codes.

We visit the Power To Be site once in a 10-day period for a total of 7 visits per site each year, as per established MAPS protocol. The birds are safely captured in specially designed mist nets, each one put in a clean cloth bag and taken to our banding station. There each bird receives an aluminum band with a unique 9-digit number. We record data that includes the age, sex, breeding status, and much more. The birds are handled by trained volunteers and banded by permitted banders, then released unharmed. All the data is sent annually to the Bird Banding Laboratory (USGS), an integrated scientific program that supports the collection, curation, archiving, and dissemination of data from banded birds. The lab, in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service Bird Banding Office, administers the North American Bird Banding Program.

We are thrilled to partner with Power To Be and arrange for their participants to visit our banding station and learn more about birds and bird banding. As part of our mandate is educating the public about avian ecology, we appreciate having this valuable opportunity to talk to people of all ages about birds and their importance in the ecosystem. We also attend various Power To Be events, hosting a booth run by our Lead Educator and volunteers who are eager to talk about birds, bird conservation, and what we do as an organization.

As it is our third field season at Prospect Lake, we are beginning to see some interesting trends regarding the bird species that breed on the property. This year we have banded a male and female Black-throated Gray Warbler – our logo bird – and they are breeding on site! One of the most exciting aspects of this particular project is recapturing birds that we have banded in previous years, especially those species which undertake long-distance migrations. Birds will return every year to breed in exactly the same location, provided the ecosystem remains intact. This year we have recaptured several Swainson’s Thrushes (which winter in South America), as well as Orange-crowned Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers and Black-headed Grosbeaks (which winter mostly in Mexico). We have also recaptured many local birds which breed on site and remain in the area year-round.

RPBO operates MAPS stations at Power To Be and Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park in the spring and early summer. From late August to mid-October we run two land bird (songbird) migration monitoring stations, one at Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina and one on Department of National Defense land at Rocky Point in Metchosin. We conduct nocturnal owl monitoring for six weeks in the fall at these same locations. Our songbird and owl banding operate daily during the season. We welcome the public to visit us at Pedder Bay Marina and learn more about birds and our programs!

For more information about RPBO, please visit our website: https://rpbo.org/