Bandelier National Monument and PEEC have been partnering for almost 20 years to bring students on a field trip to a scientific bird-banding site at Bandelier. This year, because of the pandemic, we had to bring bird banding to the students via a virtual field trip experience.
In both the virtual and in-person bird-banding programs, students gain insight into the processes of field science and learn about a key method of collecting data for understanding our local and migratory bird populations.
This year, 5th-grader Ana Saenz took things a step further by analyzing a subset of Bandelier’s bird-banding data for her science fair project:
Go outside and get to know the birds in your neighborhood! Can you find:
Birds eating, drinking, and taking shelter
A bird eating seeds
A bird eating insects or worms
A bird drinking water
A bird hiding in a tree or a bush
A habitat has food, water, shelter, and space for animals. You can help create bird habitat near your house by providing a dish of water, or planting flowers with seeds that birds can eat.
Birds interacting with people
A bird near your house
A bird using man-made features (eating from a garden, resting on a telephone wire, drinking from a bird bath, etc.)
A bird helping you (pollinating flowers, eating insect pests, etc.)
A cultural representation of a bird (painting, sign, petroglyph, constellation, etc.)
Birds can be helped and harmed by human behavior. Cats and window strikes kill lots of birds every year. You can help by keeping your cats inside, and by placing stickers or hanging strings on the outside of your windows to block reflections.
Look for a flash of yellow hopping from branch to branch, as this bird looks for insects. (Photo by Bob Walker)
Some birds live in your neighborhood year-round, and others migrate, or move from place to place with the seasons. As the season advances, keep looking for these birds. Which birds seem to stick around, and which ones do you see more or less as the seasons change? Some of our birds spend their winters in Mexico or Central America and return to breed in summer, some winter here and fly north to breed, and some use our area as a rest stop during the migration season on their way further north or south!
Start with a fruit or vegetable of your choice. You can also use a ball of mud.
Insert two sticks, forks, or other objects to be the legs.
Attach a head, wings, and a tail to your bird. Be creative!
Cut a strip of paper to fit around the bird’s leg. Write a number on the band and tape it around a leg.
Part 2: Make a Simple Balance Scale
A clothes hanger with notches
2 recycled containers of similar size
A hole punch or something sharp
String and scissors
Small objects: pennies, dried beans, pebbles, etc.
Use the hole punch to make holes on either side of the recycled containers, or ask an adult to help you use something sharp to poke holes.
Cut two equal lengths of string, and tie them through the holes. Allow enough string for a nice handle.
Hang the containers on either side of the clothes hanger, and hang the balance scale from a doorknob or another bar or hook in your home.
Place your bird gently in one of the buckets. What happens? Try to balance it by putting small objects in the other bucket! How many pennies/beans/pebbles does it take to balance your bird?
Challenge: Find the Mass of Your Bird in Grams!
Place your bird gently in one of the buckets. Slowly pour water into the other bucket until it exactly balances your bird.
Pour the water into a measuring cup and read off the volume in milliliters (ml). Because each milliliter of water has a mass of 1 gram, this volume reading equals the mass of your bird in grams!
Report your data on our online bird banding data sheet! See how the mass of your bird compares to other people’s birds, and to real birds in the wild! Report your data using the form below, then click here to see everyone’s results!
Bird banding is a scientific method for collecting information about bird populations. Whether you’re a student or a bird enthusiast, join us on a virtual field trip to find out more about bird banding! If you’re a teacher, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if you’re using this content in your classroom. Enhanced content may be available for teachers.
Click the links below to take a virtual bird banding field trip!