The Birds, the Science, and the Education:

Panhandle Bird Banding

by Delanie Bruce and Colin Woolley, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

Bird banding has been used to study wild birds since the late 1800s. The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (BCR) recently conducted its 14th bird banding season at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and its 13th season at Chadron State Park during the 2020 fall migration. This year’s banding stations were in operation from August 26 to October 9. Data collected at banding stations have greatly increased our understanding of migratory routes and timings, species’ range limits, average lifespans, and how all these life-history characteristics may be changing over time. Join the discussion to try to solve how we went from banding 190 birds last season to over 1,000 birds this season at Wildcat Hills! 


Banding stations are placed in areas where birds congregate in large numbers during migration. These stopovers generally have excellent habitat offering food and a safe place to rest. The Wildcat Hills and Pine Ridge ecosystem are Biologically Unique Landscapes (BUL) in Nebraska as detailed by the Nebraska Legacy Project. This means they are a priority landscape for conservation based on the presence of at-risk species that are found there. In the last 30-plus years, the Bird Conservancy has banded more than 100,000 birds across Colorado and Nebraska!

Delanie Bruce is the Nebraska wildlife education coordinator with BCR and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. An eastern Nebraska native, Delanie received a B.S. in fisheries and wildlife from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a M.A. in environmental education from Goshen College.


Colin Woolley is the banding coordinator with BCR. He received a B.A. in conservation biology from Prescott College in Arizona and a M.S. in biology from the University of Colorado, Denver. For his master’s research, Colin studied mountain plovers nesting in southwestern Nebraska.


Join Wachiska Audubon on Thursday, November 12, at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom to learn about bird banding in Nebraska. This free, public program is available to those who register at the link above. You can copy and paste the link into your browser or go to Wachiska’s website and click on this link directly to register. You will then receive a confirmation with the meeting number and password. A few minutes before the program is to begin, click on this confirmation and you’ll be invited into the meeting at that time. November is the annual election of officers which will take place just before the presentaton. 

Link to register:


Wachiska Audubon Society
4547 Calvert St. Suite 10 - Lincoln, NE 68506-5643
402-486-4846  - 

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