Over the last two years, our family has had the great privilege of participating in Neighborhood Nestwatch. This citizen science program involves us in monitoring the nesting activity and site fidelity of eight target bird species, which include Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Gray Catbird, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, House Wren, Carolina Wren, and Song Sparrow. Each year, Nestwatch team members come spend a morning in our yard. During their visit, they set up 3-5 mist nets, and survey the yard for nests and other bird activity. When a target bird is captured, it is sexed, measured, weighed, aged, banded and released.
Since 2012, the first year of the program, we have captured and banded 12 target birds, including one chickadee, two robins, six catbirds, two mockingbirds and one cardinal. We have caught and released several non-target species as well, including several chipping and house sparrows, a house finch, a downy woodpecker, an oven bird, and a cedar waxwing!
In addition, we have monitored six nests for the program over the last three years. We are currently monitoring the nest of the male Northern Mockingbird we banded in 2013, and successfully banded his mate today during our annual visit. We look forward to seeing which birds return in the days, months and years to come, and to banding and observing more birds and nests to better understand the lives of backyard birds.