The Birds Are Back In Town: Documenting local wildlife migration is for everyone

(Pine Haven, Wyo.) If you're not in to Pokemon Go, there are real-life activities to get you outdoors happening right here in Northeast Wyoming. But you've got to get up pretty early in the morning to catch the early bird. The Wyoming chapter of the National Audubon Society is out at Keyhole State Park this month, banding local birds. With help from the Wyoming State Parks system, the Audobon Rockies office has been out at parks around the state for eight years. But Keyhole, with its access to the Belle Fourche River, and various nesting habitats that are different from other locations in Casper and Laramie -- like sagebrush and Ponderosa Pine -- presents a range of wildlife unlike other areas of Wyoming. [image: CnGUO0MWgAApo-h.jpg] *Photo h/t Wyoming State Parks* "Being close to the Black Hills, we end up with a little bit more diversity," Audubon Education Manager Dusty Downey told County 17. Bird banding is an opportunity for kids and whole families to get outdoors and become "Citizen Scientists," like with the BioBlitzes offered at National Parks. The event is for both beginners and experienced birders. The program begins at 5:30 a.m., so they can set up nets by 6 a.m. and see what kind of birds they can catch that morning. Last week's banding event netted them 60 birds, with about 22 different species represented. They see common birds like yellow warblers or goldfinches, but last week they caught a solitaire, which is rarer, and sometimes they'll even get a kingfisher. Four years ago, they caught a yellow-billed cuckoo, which they hadn't seen before or since. [image: 13581953_1154664631244147_656034842849950249_o.jpg] *Photo h/t Keyhole State Park* "To catch that type of a bird, that's maybe not quite as abundant, is pretty exciting," explained Downey. "It's a really great opportunity to see some science up close and personal." Data collection allows them to see how many birds return to the park after migrating elsewhere. Knowing what birds nest in the area year after year is one of the main reasons they hold bird banding events. But it's also to get the public interested in their local wildlife. "To get to hold a live bird is a very powerful experience." #county17 #news