Back to Nature (Published on - July 5, 2006)
Bird banding in Florida
Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
Richard Poole busy at work at the Wekiva Basin Banding Station.
Want to get up close and personal with nature and help out with a great cause at the same time? Volunteer at the Sand Lake area of Wekiwa Springs State Park, just north of Orlando. Richard and Christine could use your help.

The Wekiva Basin Banding Station is the longest continuously running bird banding station in Florida having been set up in 1994. Wekiva currently operates in Wekiwa Springs State Park but the banding station has also operated in nearby Rock Springs Run State Reserve.

Monitoring bird activity in the Sand Lake area of Wekiwa Springs State Park has been conducted for six fall seasons, six summer seasons, and one winter season prior to 2001. During 2001 and 2002 the vegetation around the area was altered drastically.

While some of the original vegetation is present next to the path where nets were placed prior to 2001, trees on either side of the path have been removed, either by fire or mechanically. The vegetation will now be allowed to grow naturally.

The banding project near Sand Lake will encompass five years of banding effort, which began September 2002. Depending upon weather conditions mist nets are opened shortly before sunrise and closed before noon, once or twice weekly, throughout the year. Five years of collected data will give a progressive history of bird activity at the site.

This data also will give indications of weight fluctuations during the stay of these birds, site fidelity and return rate of birds and indicate the birds’ adaptations to present conditions, the emerging vegetation, and the fidelity of birds that formerly used the area as a stop-over during migration or as a wintering site. The data also will be used to compare netting captures before and after tree removal.

Standard biometric information (age, sex, mass, and fat) is recorded for each capture. Birds are marked with uniquely numbered USFWS aluminum leg bands. Now, if all this sounds just way too technical, imagine the morning mist hovering close to the ground, the sun rising slowly painting leaves and droplets sparkling golden.

Imagine gentle silence.

Picture nearly invisible netting strung through the forest, or gently freeing a bird, then for a second holding it in your hand. Feel the exuberating emotions of viewing this little creature as it is documented and checked over.

If you love birding, you don’t want to miss this opportunity. More than this, you are making a real difference in this world of ours ... back to nature.

Volunteer hours are recorded every month by Richard or Christine. Visit

Karen can be reached at

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