2016-09-08 / Nature

Fifth Annual Bird Banding Set for Sept. 18

By Jack Kelly


Professor Chace holds a northern waterthrush prior to release. This diminutive species, with a body length of 6 inches and a wingspan of 9.5 inches, is known to breed and nest within the Bailey Brook habitat. It winters along the Gulf Coast, parts of Mexico, and farther south into Central America and parts of South America. 
(Photo by Jack Kelly) Professor Chace holds a northern waterthrush prior to release. This diminutive species, with a body length of 6 inches and a wingspan of 9.5 inches, is known to breed and nest within the Bailey Brook habitat. It winters along the Gulf Coast, parts of Mexico, and farther south into Central America and parts of South America. (Photo by Jack Kelly) The Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) is sponsoring a free family-friendly bird banding exhibition on Sunday, Sept. 18, beginning with a tour of the Sweet Flag preserve, 123 Valley Road, Middletown, at 9 a.m. The event will be conducted by Dr. Jameson Chace, Salve Regina University biology professor and ALT board member, and a group of his biology students. This will mark the fifth year that Chace and his protégés have used this unique region as a living classroom and laboratory for studies of migratory and resident avian species.

The ALT has partnered with the Town of Middletown to preserve this parcel of land buffering Bailey Brook, which is a primary source of drinking water for Newport and Middletown. According to Chace, “At the top of our list of priorities is the water quality of the Bailey Brook and the protection of its watershed. We are trying to establish a buffer zone of 50-100 feet along the brook south of East Main Road. This parcel is one of the real gems of our work in watershed protection, because not only does it provide a significant buffer, but it is a habitat for a number of migratory birds.”

The group will deploy seven finely meshed, six-by-ten-foot nets across the habitat in hopes of capturing birds on the wing. The soft netting allows for a safe capture of the birds, which are held until collected by the scientists. Each bird is weighed, measured, checked for age and documented. A USFWS band is attached to the leg of the specimen before its release back into the wild. Past biological studies by Chace and his students have required feather and blood samples to determine the effects of herbicides, pesticides and other environmental pollutants on the avian populations.

The ALT requests that participants carpool and park at the Middletown police station. For more information or to RSVP for the event, contact Alex Chuman at achuman@ailt.org or 401-849-2799 x 14.

Jack Kelly, a native Newporter, is a wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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