Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) is a continent-wide program created by the Institute for Bird Population (IBP) to collect information about bird populations. Before this program was established, anyone with a bird banding license was able to band birds in their own backyard at any time with their own procedures.
This method of bird banding was helpful in collecting information, but didn’t allow for nation-wide analysis. In order to create a nation-wide database, IBP established standardized bird banding protocol for various specific programs that focus on different aspects of bird population monitoring.
Bird banding at Merry Lea is part of the nation-wide MAPS program established by IBP. The goal of the MAPS program is to determine the different roles survivorship (how long a bird lives) and productivity (how successful a bird is at producing offspring) have in fluctuating bird populations.
Data collection takes place from May to August across the country so that migrating birds passing through are not caught and banded. Each bird that is banded in this process has a unique number that no other bird will ever have. When a bird is caught and banded, information such as age, sex, wing length, weight, and breeding status are recorded and entered into the nation-wide database.
Merry Lea runs two bird banding stations as a part of the MAPS program. Dr. David Miller established the program in 2002 and it continued under the direction of Dr. Lisa Zinn. Currently, Carol Good-Elliott oversees bird banding research with the help of community volunteers and Goshen College interns.