Oh hey I run a bird banding station now

It’s been… 20 months (yikes) since my last post, and some stuff has changed! I’m back in the San Francisco Bay Area where the juncos look right – none of this slate-colored nonsense – and I now co-run a bird banding station.

Wow that sounds like your dream job

We’re Coyote Creek Field Station, part of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory. This is the place that generously trained me back in 2012 in preparation for my PhD field work with juncos. The bird banding station has been running continuously since 1987, which means that we have a long legacy to live up to and a very large dataset of measurements on banded birds to poke around in!

Data on birds like this female Orange-crowned Warbler, who has been coming to the station since 2012 – just like me!
Data on birds like this Hutton’s Vireo, who is very cute

My colleagues and I are bird people, so even though we’ve got our bird in the hand, we’ve still got our eyes on those birds in the bush. We’ve got big plans for the future – some of which have already had their grant proposals denied, but hey, there’s always the next grant to hope for. We’re contributing data to other researchers’ projects on species including California Towhees and Common Yellowthroats. We’re trying to make the banding station better-suited to hosting visitors and school groups so we can share the birds with more people.

I love our banding station, but it is 30 years old and has some holes. A lot of holes. Some of the holes are in the floor. Also there are quite a few spiderwebs, which we’re afraid to clean in case they turn out to be load-bearing spiderwebs.

We’re putting up new, extra-tall nets to capture birds higher up.

Look how tall that net is! I built that! (With help, of course.)

We’re working on expanding to other habitats with different bird communities.

And by “different,” I mean “weird”. (California Thrasher.)
My new obsession, the Wrentit. Can you believe this is a North American bird?
I mean look at that face
Oak Titmouse is stylish and fierce
Hold on, is that a RAPTOR?! (Sharp-shinned Hawk, young male.)

There’s more, but it’s theoretical until a grant comes through. And even without all these new endeavors, our core work – keeping the main banding station running, adding data to that 38-year dataset, and combing through it for answers – is important. Hopefully, all of this work should help us better understand how birds are doing in the Bay Area and why, and be able to share that information with more people.

10 thoughts on “Oh hey I run a bird banding station now

  1. Well, the job is very important!! Hoping you and your team can continue doing this important work for many many years to come! Stay safe and well!!

  2. It’s fun to look back at your posts from the banding station in 2016 and 2017. Have you ever caught a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher?

  3. Glad to hear from you, Katie. I thought you had moved on without us. Glad to hear about your new position. Hope you can continue to keep us informed. Good writing, great subjects.

  4. Welcome back to the Bay Area, and glad to see you again! I love your posts amd have missed them. I’ll love them even more now that I’m back in the same neck-of-the-woods!

  5. Congratulations on your new endeavor and thank you for the photos. I was wondering what happened to you. Keep on posting when you can. I so enjoy your writing.

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