Chimney Swift Project
Chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are one of the most distinctive birds in North America and an integral part of a healthy environment. One bird consumes over one thousand mosquitos a day, making this species one of the most effective at pest control. Sadly, chimney swift populations in the United States have dropped more than 50 percent in the last few decades – Canadian populations by 90 percent. This alarming decline is largely due to habitat loss. But there is good news! Habitat for these remarkable birds can be created in the form of artificial chimneys or ‘towers,’ which serve as essential nesting and roosting sites. WVWA finished building our first tower in July of 2017, and hope to continue creating habitat for chimney swifts in the Wissahickon Valley.
WVWA’s Bird Conservation Initiative included the establishment and operation of a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding station on Crossways Preserve in the summer of 2015. The MAPS project was created by the Institute for Bird Populations – a nonprofit based in Point Reyes, California, dedicated to research on the abundance, distribution, and ecology of birds, in response to bird population declines. The project seeks to understand the factors that influence their survival and productivity (the main drivers of population change) over time.
Read about the 2016 Bird Banding season in Margaret Rohde's blog - Birds of WVWA
Nest Box Project
Over the last several decades, many species of cavity nesting birds have faced population declines due to habitat loss and competition with non-native bird species (European starlings and house sparrows) – eastern bluebirds in particular. So, since 2015, WVWA has been installing nest boxes at many of our preserves in an effort to increase wildlife habitat and provide nesting sites – a primary goal of our land management. We now have a total of 10 boxes, and are hoping to increase that number each year!
Bluebird Color Banding
Color bands make it possible for us to identify individual birds at a distance - known as “resighting." A combination of banding and resighting data allows us to gain a greater understanding of a bird’s life – things like how they interact with others of their species, where they spend their time, and their movements within a landscape. Since we’re color banding bluebird nestlings, we will easily be able to determine if young born on our preserves stick around over the winter.
eBird is an online database created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, where anyone can submit simple lists of the birds they’ve encountered while birding, anywhere in the world.
The Cornell Lab of Orinthology BirdCast
Interested in knowing which birds will be migrating through our area, and when? Check out Cornell's BirdCast, where regional predictions are posted each week during spring and fall migration.