Monday, August 15 marked the opening of the 2016 fall migration banding season at Manomet.


Every year, our banding team kicks off the season by setting up 50 mist nets in traditional locations at Manomet Headquarters. Once the nets are set up, the banders run the nets Monday through Friday from dawn to dusk to record data on resident and migrating birds. With up to 50 seasons of spring and fall data, we can address phenomena such as population change, longevity, range expansions and contractions, or migration timing in response to climate change.


From our first weekly report the team shared that they started strong with 87 birds on Thursday. Highlights included a female Blue-winged Warbler and 66 Gray Catbirds in one day, which might be very close to a Manomet record! To keep up with everything our banding team is seeing, follow them on Twitter.


Showing their best sides in the lab, l to r: Trevor Lloyd-Evans, Alan Kneidel, Emily Renaud and Sarah Groendyk.


In April 2016, we noted: “The spring banding season is only three days old, but each day seems to have alternated from warm and spring-like, to cold and windy off a frigid Cape Cod Bay.” What a contrast this August as we erected nets in 100% humidity and promptly furled them in temperatures as high as 90°+ F; too hot for birds and banders!


Our banding station wouldn’t be the same without the dedicated people who operate it—our banders and volunteers. This year all four staff we are welcoming back are veterans. Sarah Groendyk and Emily Renaud, recent graduates from Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Rhode Island respectively, learned their migration banding skills at our Banding Lab this past spring. Both have returned to complement the experience with juvenile plumages, unossified skulls and prebasic molts (on the birds that is, not Emily or Sarah).


Alex Bartolo was a lead bander and teacher last fall—you can see his passion for birds and migration in the accompanying photograph. After working with a captive breeding and release program for protected Loggerhead Shrikes endemic to San Clemente Island in California, Alex returned to Manomet for a second fall season. We are also excited to welcome back Alan Kneidel—and congratulate him on his recent MS degree from the University of Delaware. His Manomet resumé alone includes work in the Banding Lab, on the Gulf oil spill, and with breeding shorebirds in the Yukon delta and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Every year, we welcome hundreds of students, adult groups, and individuals to our Banding Lab to learn about our work and experience the magic of birds up close. As a research facility our net lanes are closed to the public. However, check out our website for events and other opportunities to learn more about Manomet’s work. We hope to see you soon!

Alex Bartolo sharing his passion for landbird conservation with students.