Photo: Northern Parula by Federico Acevedo
Tropical Audubon Society &
Cape Florida Banding Station poised to grow
Community Science program together
We are pleased to share the exciting news about a new collaboration between Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) and the Cape Florida Banding Station (CFBS)! We are coming together to nurture and grow CFBS, one of South Florida’s longest-running Community Science programs. The partnership is intended to ensure that the Banding Station’s vital work will continue for generations to come.

Our region is a key stopover for migrant songbirds using the Atlantic Flyway in spring and fall. Through this newly hatched initiative, the Banding Station will now be included in TAS's programming, which will help facilitate a deepening of scientific research and an expansion of public outreach and education about South Florida’s avian visitors.

TAS Executive Director Paola Ferreira is excited to take CFBS under TAS's wing and welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with ornithologists and researchers. The work of the station will also inform the advocacy we engage in to conserve and restore South Florida ecosystems, and secure long-term sustainability for the critical work CFBS has undertaken over the last 20 years. “We want to build upon the long-term monitoring data that highlights the importance of protecting native habitat for migrating songbirds, especially within Miami-Dade’s urban areas. Such information is also crucial to understanding impacts of climate change on migratory birds,” Ferreira says.

Michelle Davis, who cofounded the station and oversees it, believes working with TAS will help further engage the area birders who have long supported the station’s work, along with better educating the broader local community via our established messaging channels.

“People love songbirds!” enthuses Davis, who holds a PSM in Environmental Policy and Management from FIU. “Sharing the adventures and wonders of migration is an excellent way to generate public interest in conservation. Birds’ epic travels throughout the Western Hemisphere can also resonate with human immigrants to our area, reconnecting them emotionally to their native countries. Valuing one’s own home is the first step in growing a conservation mindset,” she says.
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak is gently released after it was banded by skilled volunteers at the Cape Florida Banding Station. Photo by Mario Porcelli
Bird Banding Process
Delicate mist nets temporarily trap migrating songbirds passing through the banding area; within minutes of a capture, volunteers gently extract the bird and bring it to the banding tent. There, the bird is quickly processed by a master bander and released unharmed. Data on species, sex, age and overall health is collected using standardized methods. One of the most important measurements is of the “fat load” that an individual bird carries. Fat is the fuel burned in the long migration, so birds need to use “stopover” habitats along their way for refueling and rest. A captured bird is next carefully fitted with a USFWS aluminum leg band marked with a unique set of numbers. After a few minutes of assessment in a gentle, humane manner, the bird is carefully released to continue its migratory journey. Birds separated from their flock may find their flock or join a new one.
Birds captured during migration are expertly fitted by master banders at the Cape Florida Banding Station with a USFWS aluminum leg band marked with a unique set of numbers. Photo by Federico Acevedo
Michelle Davis could be considered a bird whisperer, having intimately interacted with these feathered wonders for two decades as Cape Florida Banding Station. Photo by Federico Acevedo
A master bander at the Cape Florida Banding Station prepares to measure the wingspan of a Black-and-white Warbler before it is released. Photo by Federico Acevedo
Tropical Audubon Society Education Director Alison Enchelmaier gently cradles a Black-and-white Warbler at the Cape Florida Banding Station before it is banded and released. Photo by Federico Acevedo