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Lake Erie Islands Conservancy 2020 Bird Research

Lake Erie Islands Conservancy 2020 Bird Research

Tom & Paula Bartlett

          The spring of 2020 is/was much different than a normal spring.  For the last 18 years, Tom Bartlett and his banding team have come to the islands to study the birds using the islands during migration.  This was done using mist nets, trapping the birds collecting data on them, banding them with a numbered metal band, and releasing them.  It has always been open to the public and for participants of the Road Scholar programs which come to the islands.  This year most of the research has be curtailed because of the COVID-19.  Tom’s main banding station at Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve in southern Seneca County had to be closed.  The preserve is open to the public and access could not be controlled.  They banded March 14 and over 20 visitors showed up.  It first appeared we would have the same problem on the islands as The Bird Banding Laboratory protocol stated no visitors or banding on public lands which could not be closed to the public.  On Kelleys Island, they band on land owned by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, so access was strictly controlled and no visitors were allowed.  They also worked with the Kelleys Island mayor on when and how they could band.  So they third week of April they were able to band on Kelleys but snow on 3 of the 7 days hampered their efforts.  Working with the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy and the Put-in-Bay Township Park District they were able to band on MIddle Bass and on South Bass.  Middle Bass involved closing the East Point Preserve during the banding times.  On South Bass they band on private property at the Vineyard B & B.  Again, at both sites weather was not the greatest for bird migration but at least some data was collected.  The public was very cooperative and adhered to the no visitors rule without complaint but I am sure they were disappointed.

On Kelleys Island there were only 4 of us in April.  The bad part was it snowed 3 out of the 7 days so we only banded 107 birds.  Summer Tanager was good though.  Photo attached.  On Middle Bass Island we had 5 volunteers.  Banded 44 species and 285 individuals.  Pine Warbler was the best, my first ever and we did 2!  On South Bass there were only 4 of us.  Banded 39 species and 283 individuals.  Best birds were a male Hooded Warbler and 9 year old Common Grackle. 


One note of interest from South Bass.  Our number 1 banded bird was Red-winged Blackbird (which is normal).  Last Thursday we had some southerly wind.  The female Red-winged Blackbirds left.  On Friday and Saturday, we did not capture a single female.  Plenty of males but no females were captured or viewed in the area.  On Sunday we captured one female and saw one other.  The females seemed to have left on Thursday night and no other females replaced them…  Sometimes it is not what you capture but what you don’t.


Below are some statistics on some recaptured birds from other years. Most of these birds are coming back to the same location each year-or not leaving. Attached are the full list of birds banded this spring.

I can’t remember a late spring banding when we had snow 4-5 days during the period.  I still have my long underwear on… 

Middle Bass:

1 – 6 year old Northern Cardinal

2 – 5 year old American Robins

  1. 1 – 4 year old Northern Flicker which was originally banded in McComb County, Michigan on May 26, 2017.

South Bass:

  1. a 9 year old Common Grackle
  2. 2 6 year old Red-winged Blackbirds
  3. a 6 year old Common Grackle
  4. 2 5 year old Red-winged Blackbirds

Spring2020Islands Totals

Hooded Warbler banded on South Bass Island

Middle Bass Banding Station and Crew

Pine Warbler banded on Middle Bass Island

Sign displayed at entrance to Middle Bass Island East Point Preserve during hours of banding

Summer Tanager banded on Kelleys Island