Metro Beach Metropark
Beginning in 1989, Ellie T. Cox began a bird banding project to monitor the migration, and study the stopover ecology, of migrant songbirds in the vicinity of South Metro Marsh and Point Rosa Marsh at Metro Beach Metropark, Macomb County, Michigan. Prior to this, she and her husband Howard conducted a 13-year study of the nesting Black Terns in the North Marsh, which suffered local extinction concurrent with the increase in nesting Mute Swans in the marsh. In May 2001, Ellie banded her last bird at Metro Beach (banding more than 13,000 birds between 1989-1999), and soon after retired from banding (click here for a summary). In spring 2004 I re-initiated the project under my own federal bird banding permit. As I'd helped Ellie for most of those years, I am honored to continue the project in her memory (she passed away in 2012) to help us learn about the long-term trends of migration in this area, and to continue to provide Nature Center staff at the park with annual updates on the migration, and the reinforcing the importance of this small patch of habitat in suburban southeastern Michigan to migrating and breeding birds. This website was developed as a venue to post annual reports and photo highlights from each season. As the site develops, there may be more features added.
Michigan Hummingbird Guy blog (weekly banding reports in spring and fall, hummingbirds in summer, nature topics any time)
Spring 2014 Report
Great Lakes HummerNet website (Michigan hummingbird research)
What's involved in volunteering to help? Read this first!
No experience is necessary to be a banding assistant, as the person doing the actual banding is required to have federal and state permits, and that person is me. The help consists of setting up and taking down all the mist nets, which involves slogging through the swampy muddy area with somewhat heavy conduit poles and re-bar, as well as checking nets with me every 30 minutes (1/4 mile muddy walk each time in spring, dry in fall), and other things like recording the banding data in the notebook and possibly eventually assisting with extracting birds from mist nets after extensive training. We meet at the Day Sail parking area at Metro Beach at 6 a.m. and head back to the banding area once everyone shows up (usually before 6:15). Late arrivers must walk in and early departers must walk out, as we have special permits to drive on the closed maintenance road where I band. We start setting up nets before sunrise at certain times of year, so a flashlight or head lamp is very useful before late April and after mid-September. Rubber boots at least halfway up to your knee are also needed in spring. There will be idle periods between net checks (every 30 minutes) so a folding chair will be useful, and of course you should bring a lunch and drinking water (and a camera if you're so inclined). Sunscreen and insect repellent will come in handy in late spring (late May) and early fall (August). My protocol is to keep the nets open for 6 hours after the last one (of 13) is open. This usually means we will be closing the nets around 2 p.m. and, like the setup, it will take another hour to hour and a half to take everything down. So, ideally I'm looking for a commitment from volunteers to be on site from 6 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (rarely we stay open later if we're catching a lot of birds, and also rarely we close earlier if it starts raining or gets too windy). I cannot operate the station unless I have at least two volunteers to help (more are welcome), so if someone needs to leave early or stay late I need to get an additional person to cover that time. I operate this station two days out of each 7 day period (Sun-Sat), with the schedule entirely dependent on when I can get volunteers, and of course working around my own schedule as well.
My banding project is mainly migration monitoring and stopover ecology, to assist the land managers at the park regarding the value of this patch of their property to migrant and breeding birds. We also band during fall migration from August to October, when the banding area is completely dry, with very little mud and almost no standing water.
If after reading all this, you are still interested, let me know by clicking on the Volunteer to Help link below, and I can add you to my e-mail list. I send out one or two e-mails each week begging for help, and one e-mail each week with a summary of what birds were banded during the previous week.
Visit the Metro Beach Metropark website (small map available)