In 2019, AAS partnered with the Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) to implement a long-term bird banding lab at Prairie Creek Preserve, located in eastern Alachua County. Together with UF faculty and a state-certified bander, the banding laboratory is staffed seasonally by AAS volunteers and student interns through AAS’s college internship program. The banding lab is designed to provide hands-on training to students and conservation professionals in the techniques of mist-netting and bird banding while advancing our understanding of how birds utilize the regional landscape. Each semester of monitoring exposes more students to the welfare and conservation of birds and the habitats they depend on.
The fundamental goal of bird banding is to record the age, sex, wing length, fat deposits, and body mass of captured species as a way of monitoring, year to year, how avian populations are faring in the wild. Bird banding ultimately helps us understand how to conserve and manage the land in which these species live and breed.
Research through bird banding has many additional uses, including:
- Avian Behavior and Migration
- Longevity and Life Cycles
- Population Monitoring
- Weight and Plumage Changes
- Habitat Use
- Disease and Environmental Toxins
The Prairie Creek Banding Lab is based in Prairie Creek Preserve, a 606-acre conservation area of flatwoods, mesic and hydric hammocks, cypress swamps, depression marshes, and blackwater streams. Prairie Creek Preserve is owned and managed by the Alachua Conservation Trust and is situated on an important migratory bird flyway between Newnans Lake and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park.