Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Bird Banding Project

Bird banding research and MAPS at Merry Lea

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.

The MAPS program focuses on birds during their breeding season. Because of this, 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 currently runs one bird banding station as part of the MAPS program. Dr. David Miller established the program in 2002 and continued under the direction of Dr. Lisa Zinn until 2017. Currently, Carol Good-Elliott oversees bird banding research with the help of community volunteers and Goshen College interns.

Read more about bird banding at Merry Lea

Merry Lea Environmental Educator Carol Good-Elliott wrote a blog about the bird banding research conducted at Merry Lea. Read an overview of what bird banding is, how we band birds and why we do it.

Get a closer look at the identification process for two young birds banded at Merry Lea. Written by Merry Lea Environmental Educator Carol Good-Elliott, the piece navigates through the tricky process of telling apart sparrow species – especially when they’re fledglings.