Crown Point bird count reaches milestone

CROWN POINT - The Crown Point Bird Banding Association marked a milestone during the spring migration by capturing and releasing its 100th species of bird, an American Kestrel.

It was the first small falcon ever banded on the Crown Point peninsula.

Established in 1976, the bird migration monitoring station at Crown Point State Historic Site has banded a total of 15,976 birds.

This year's banding by the volunteers was supervised by the association's acting director, Gordon E. Howard, a professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University in South Carolina.

In May mist nets are set up and monitored, and birds who get caught in the nets are quickly banded and released back on their way. Information gathered has been vital to understanding migration trends and species population.

This spring 533 individual birds were banded, representing 55 different species, including 34 birds that were banded at Crown Point in previous years.

Visiting student groups, elementary age though college, participate in the banding. Those who release a bird at first capture receive a certificate containing information about that bird and a short life history of the species. If these birds are recaptured in subsequent years the releasers are sent a postcard notifying them that "their bird" was recaptured at Crown Point.

Since certificates were first issued in 1995, 1,089 certificates have been issued and 70 return notices have been sent to date. For one releaser, this will be the third postcard notifying her that her Black-capped Chickadee has returned.

Remarkably, last month the station netted two returned birds that were first banded and released by young sisters (under 10 years of age when they initially released the birds here) who happen to live in Crown Point.

Birds are drawn to Crown Point because of its location along a migration flyway, but they also stop to take advantage of the fairly large area of shrub land and early succession forests. Many birds favor this type of habitat which is becoming less and less common as these habitats are either converted to agricultural land or develop into mature forests over time.

The 380-acre Crown Point State Historic Site property features two registered national historic landmarks and is operated by the Saratoga - Capital District Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The public may contact the site office (phone 597-4666) to request information about the Friends of Crown Point State Historic Site organization. Site information is also available at www.nysparks.com

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