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Songbird Breeding and Migration Monitoring

The University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab monitors songbird populations during the breeding season and fall migration. In both seasons, songbirds are monitored in three sites across MPG Ranch which differ in habitat and elevation. They erect mist-nets, which resemble a volleyball net with finer mesh, in strategic places to capture passing birds. Once a bird is captured, they take various morphological measurements, record reproductive condition during the breeding season, and attach a leg band imprinted with a unique identification number. Leg band data is reported to a central location, the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory, if the bird is recaptured and reported, we can gain insight into where it has traveled and it’s condition upon capture. Monitoring during the breeding season gives valuable insight into habitat function; habitat suitable to breeding will yield a greater number of birds in reproductive condition. Fall songbird monitor will contribute to understanding migration ecology of birds moving through western Montana, and in combination with other monitoring programs, the Northern Rockies.

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