MAPS Bird Banding at HBS

In 2020, the Highlands Biological Station became home to a new bird banding station for the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program – an initiative that began just over 30 years ago to assess trends in avian demographics in a wide range of habitats in North America.

HBS’s bird banding efforts are led by the non-profit organization Blue Ridge Bird Observatory (BRBO; formerly Southern Appalachian Raptor Research) which has successfully operated several banding stations at other locations in western NC as part of the MAPS program. Over the next several years, bird banding will take place at the Station every 10 days or so between May and August. Biological data such as age, sex, feather condition, wing measurements, and any signs of disease or injury will be collected from birds, and each bird will be fitted with a USGS-issued aluminum band featuring a unique ID number that can be used to identify that individual. MAPS banding stations allow researchers to better understand the underlying causes of bird population trends while also serving as an educational opportunity for bird ecology and conservation.

If you come for a morning stroll through the Botanical Garden and notice staff working at the bird banding table on campus, you are welcome to stop by and observe their work. This is an excellent opportunity to engage in real and relevant science in our community.

This project is made possible thanks to the knowledge and experience of BRBO’s staff, facilitation by HBS Associate Director Jason Love, and funding provided by the Highlands Biological Foundation.

For more information about this research, visit BRBO’s website at or call the Station at (828)787-2820.


Learn more about HBS’s bird banding efforts below:

Click play to see a presentation from Blue Ridge Bird Observatory’s Director, Mark Hopey, titled “Monitoring Bird Populations at Highlands Biological Station: A Long Term Survey”.

HBF Funds New “MAPS” Bird Banding Station at HBS. Click HERE to view the pdf version.



Caterpillars Count! helps researchers link insect food availability to songbird health and survival. Click HERE to view the pdf version.



Lauren Whitenack, BRBO’s lead 2021 bird bander and one of HBF’s ‘grants-in-aid of scientific research’ recipients, summarizes her 2021 bird banding and Caterpillars Count! data. Click HERE for the pdf version.



BRBO’s 2021 MAPS Bird Banding at HBS by the Numbers:

Individual Birds Analyzed

Total Bird Species Counted

Resident Species Counted

Warbler Species Counted