Nebraska Ornithologists' Union



Holly Garrod

Date of this Version



"2015 Fall Migration Bird Banding at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area," from Nebraska Bird Review (December 2015) 83(4).


Copyright 2015 Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union. Used by permission.


It was a different season of bird banding this year at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area in Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. Due to construction at the nature center, the banding station was moved farther down the road to one of the picnic shelters. The habitat remained mostly the same, with Ponderosa Pine and multispecies-shrub understory dominating the unique ridge landscape characteristic of Wildcat Hills. The new site provided more shrub understory but lacked the running water of Turkey Creek and the bird feeders at the nature center. Bird Conservatory of the Rockies (formerly Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory) has been banding at Wildcat Hills for nine years now and this marks the first year the banding site was relocated.

This year we ended the season with a total of 364 birds of 34 species banded over a seven-week period. How does this stack up to previous years? On average, 509 birds are banded each year at Wildcat Hills, this year ranking the third lowest. However, annual captures have ranged widely, from a low of 227 birds in 2007 to a high of 915 birds in 2012. While the number of individuals banded this year was low the number of species banded was slightly above the average of 32 species annually. The number of species banded per year has ranged from 17 in 2007 to 41 in 2014. I reviewed the data and there is no apparent correlation between number of individuals and number of species banded. Possible influences on the seasonal variation might include weather and/or resource availability.