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The original impetus for the formation of MRBO was the need to monitor birds that use the Missouri River corridor as stopover habitat during migration. We currently operate spring and fall banding stations at Grand Pass Conservation Area where we study passerines and shorebirds. By the very nature of bird migration, the journey is perilous and tests the limits of endurance. Before migration, birds are capable of storing up to 50% of their body weight in lipids. They rely upon stopover sites to rebuild these reserves. Stopover habitat is increasingly becoming important for many bird populations in decline due to habitat alteration on wintering grounds and fragmentation throughout their ranges.
In order for land managers to make sound decisions considering multiple landscape scales and diverse taxa, consistent and standardized monitoring efforts throughout species' life history cycles are needed. Resulting information can inform decisions based on migration timing of various avian species, condition of birds in migration, as well as habitat associations. To begin tracking spring migration along the Missouri River corridor, we selected Grand Pass Conservation Area (GCPA) as the primary sampling site.
The principal monitoring tool used by MRBO is bird-banding, which consists of the following:
Fixed placement of at least fifteen 12-m long by 3-m tall mist-nets on the north side of GPCA, erected in early April and operated daily until late May.
Nets are opened each day one half hour before dawn, weather permitting, and run until capture rate decline
Each bird receives a standard, individually-numbered U.S.G.S aluminum band, is identified to species or subspecies, and aged as precisely as possible.
Standard morphological measurements, including fat and muscle condition, are documented.
Beginning in Spring 2011, we also deployed an Autonomous Recording Unit at the banding site in order to record night flight calls of migrants from sunset to sunrise. Recordings will allow us to supplement banding data by determining the relative presence and abundance of species that are not captured or otherwise observed at GPCA.
Fall 2012 saw another interesting, successful migration monitoring season here in central Missouri. We continued tracking migration at our established site at Van Meter State Park (VANM), and also set up pilot sites at Hi-Lonesome Conservation Area (HILO) in Benton County, and the MRBO home office site (HOME) outside of Marshall. A third pilot site was established at Grand Pass Conservation Area (GP93) in an area of early-successional willow and cottonwood growth where the infamous Flood of '93 had scoured the habitat within the levees.
Spring 2012: Spring 2012 was a season of migration surprises. It was our fourth spring of operation at Grand Pass Conservation Area and our second season (first spring) at Van Meter State Park. Some of the highlights from this spring included:
—educational programs with Marshall 5th-graders at Van Meter State Park, where students rotated through two MRBO stations and two stations led by State Parks interpreters Mike Dickey, Lee Wilbeck, and Eric Fuemmeler (thanks guys!),
—a second great year at the Wings Over Weston festival during International Migratory Bird Day, and
—the opportunity to work with several new interns from Missouri and elsewhere.
Fall 2011: Previously, in Fall 2010, we monitored fall migration using 20 nets in the southwest corner of Grand Pass Conservation Area. We were very pleased with the results of this site in terms of thrush captures, with relatively large numbers of Wood and Swainson’s Thrushes. However, this site was lacking in terms of warblers, so we planned to operate an additional site at Van Meter State Park in Fall 2011. The Missouri River thwarted this plan by inundating the southwest Grand Pass site with floodwaters throughout the summer and into the fall of this year. Therefore, instead of fall banding at Grand Pass, we set out to test three other locations. Two locations were located at Van Meter State Park. One of the Van Meter sites was located adjacent to a marsh in a shrubby area beneath a few old sycamores and cottonwoods. The second site was on a hilltop in a stand of near-mature hardwoods. The third site we chose was at Indian Foothill’s Park in Marshall; this site was dominated by edge habitat and was a mixture of old field, regenerating hardwoods, and second-growth hardwood forest. Download full synopisis and results (HERE)
Spring 2011: We continued operation of the now-permanent station on
the north side of GPCA. With 22 nets, including one elevated net, in operation from 15 April to 27 May, we captured 1047 birds of 67 species. Weather posed more of a serious challenge than it did in the spring of 2009 or 2010. High south winds, often exceeding 20 m.p.h., pushed migratory birds through Missouri quickly and forced daily efforts to be reduced in order to prevent injuries to birds. The Missouri River inundated the banding site and forced operations to end on 27 May, but that did not significantly affect results. Download our Spring 2011 banding summary (HERE).
Fall 2010: We decided to try a new area of Grand Pass CA to establish a fall monitoring station this year. Overall numbers were rather low, but there were some very interesting species with high capture rates: 18 Brown Creepers, 61Wood Thrushes, 37 Hermit Thrushes, and 20 Swainson's Thrushes made up a large percentage of our catch. We also trapped shorebirds in the east section of Grand Pass's Pool 1, which was drained by Area managers for migrating shorebirds. Very little mudflat habitat was available in the Missouri River valley this fall, due to high precipitation levels and the River being close to flooding all summer. Download our fall 2010 banding summary (HERE).
Spring 2010: The spring migration station established on the northwest corner of Grand Pass CA continued in 2010 to provide us with a large number of captures. Highlights were 23 species of wood-warblers (Parulidae), including two Golden-winged Warblers, twenty individual birds recaptured from 2009, and all seven Missouri woodpeckers. Download the tabular summary of spring 2010 banding (HERE).
Spring and Fall 2009: Spring 2009 saw the advent of the Grand Pass CA banding station that would eventually become MRBO. A brief migration monitoring season (31 March - 8 May) yielded 418 migrant and resident birds. In the fall of 2009, seven pilot trapping attempts resulted in the capture of 64 shorebirds of five species. These initial attempts convinced us that Grand Pass would provide ample opportunity for studying migratory non-game birds in the Missouri River valley. Spring and Fall 2009 results can be found (HERE).
Conservation in Missouri through research, education, and outreach
Staff| Board of Directors | Partnerships | Migration Banding | Marshbird Surveys | MAPS | Backyard Banding
Interns and Assistants| Schools | SCCC Classes | Burroughs Audubon | Cole Camp Master Naturalists | Anyone Welcome |
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Director: Dana Ripper: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Director: Ethan Duke: email@example.com
MRBO Office: 660.886.8788
A 501(c)(3) Non-profit organization located in Marshall, MO