Jackson Audubon Trip to Burke Lake Banding Station
By Pegg Clevenger
You’d never know it by driving down Clark Road in Bath Township that by taking a short walk from a small parking area (located about a mile east of Upton Road) to Michigan State University’s Burke Lake Banding Station that scientists and birds converge. Burke Lake Banding Station performs important data collection in a tent in the woods (by permit from the DNR) near Burke Lake during fall and spring migration. On most mornings the station is busy with bird and human activity.
The Tuesday morning Jackson Audubon group was warmly welcomed by the workers, and the experience was educational and thrilling. Going into the woods with the college interns, the narrow planked paths led to many stations of mist nets. Six or seven birds in each net meant swift action by the trained students. The feathered captives were gently removed and carefully placed into soft fabric bags. Large birds went into wooden boxes with cubby-holes lined with paper.
Back in the tent the birds were gently weighed, inspected for ticks, measured, blown upon to see their fat and muscle formation and quietly identified, banded and recorded. The intern stepped out with a bird in hand and visitors gathered to examine the beautiful feathers and identify the bird. The migrants were held up in the dappled sunlight for photos. If you held out your palm, the bird was placed there for release.
Even the paper lining the cubby-holes was charted for berry content left by the individual bird-feces. I learned the true value through recorded data of planting the preferred native spice bush vs. invasive honeysuckle. Examining the tiny kinglets and warblers up-close, observing a sapsucker from all sides, and holding a peewee for many minutes made a connection I could never make through binoculars!
For more information about the station, check out the Burke Lake Banding Staion’s web site: http://www.burkelakebanding.com/