Bird Lab

Bird Lab creates and implements bird-focused conservation practices through the integration of research, education, and community science–that together–create healthy ecosystems.

Upper St Clair - White-eyed Vireo

r e s e a r c h

studying birds and their ecosystems to collect data that can help to inform conservation practices

Twin Stupas - Indigo Bunting

e d u c a t i o n

teaching folks of all ages about birds which opens up access to the natural world

Hays Woods - Northern Flicker

c o m m u n i t y   s c i e n c e

improving the public’s capacity to observe, understand, and measure the living world, inspiring them to conserve it

Birds enliven the world. We can watch a Hooded Warbler fly through a forest or hear a House Finch singing from the top of a city building. We can feel a Pileated Woodpecker’s vibration on a backyard tree as it echos through an ecosystem. As we experience birds, they connect us to the living world and all of its integrated systems.

The living world is facing unprecedented challenges though. By studying birds, we can help them to survive and to ensure their ecosystems remain healthy. In doing so, we create scenarios that allow humans to live along side the natural world without conflict, better connecting us.

You can experience birds just about anywhere because they are everywhere!  Visit Bird Lab’s bird banding project to see them in a different way. Up-close with a biologist. 

Bird banding stations exist all over the world. In the U.S. they are run by master bird banders who receive permits from the Bird Banding Laboratory, an integrated scientific program by the U.S. Geological Survey, to answer scientific questions about birds and their breeding, migration, and wintering habits. Because bird banding involves studying birds in-hand and up-close, scientists can collect data that would otherwise go missed by simply counting the birds in a census for example. 

To capture birds for banding, bird banders string up mist nets which are fabricated out of thin black thread giving the illusion of mist; they are nearly imperceptible when placed. They are located in various habitat conditions within the study site—like where a forest might meet a meadow or adjacent to a stream. As birds move around their habitat, they may get ensnared by the net and fall into the pockets that are formed by the net’s construction. Banders go around at frequent intervals to safely extract birds that are in the nets.

To transport them back to the banding table, the birds are placed in soft breathable bags that keep them calm. Once at the banding table, a bird is taken out of the bag and gently but securely held with special grips that control its movement. The species is identified and matched with a band size that allows the band to freely move along the leg like a bracelet; it does not impede the bird’s movement in anyway. Bands come in an array of sizes that reflect the diversity of bird species. And each band has a unique ID number so if the bird is ever encountered again, it can be identified. 

A series of biometric data are then collected. The bird’s age and sex are first determined. The presence of breeding conditions are described and the amount of fat the bird is carrying is also noted. The bird gets measured and weighed and promptly released once everything is collected. When a bird comes out of the bird bag, the whole process of data collection takes under a minute. And off the bird goes!

Protocols are put into place that ensure the bird is safe during the entire process. Bird Lab’s master bander, Nick G Liadis, holds the permit for banding. He is also certified by the North American Banding Council (NABC) to the their highest certification.

To schedule a visit, please contact Bird Lab by email.

Bird Banding Study Sites: 

Hays Woods - urban site

Upper St. Clair Woodland - suburban site (private property)

Twin Stupas - rural site (private property)

Banding Demo with Appalachian Science Community

You can experience birds just about anywhere because they are everywhere! Visit Bird Lab’s bird banding project to see them in a different way. Up-close with a biologist.

Bird Banding Study Sites:
Hays Woods - urban site
Upper St. Clair Woodland - suburban site (private property)
Twin Stupas - rural site (private property)

To schedule a visit, please contact Bird Lab by email.

Executive Director - Nick G Liadis

Nick is an avian conservation biologist. His work takes him across the human landscape gradient into urban, suburban, and rural areas to better understand how birds live alongside humans. With his background in architecture, he’s defined a new approach to design by expanding a strong interest in the natural world, and in particular, birdlife. Central to this cross-disciplinary work is protecting birds from striking the windows of buildings, which occurs when they get tricked into perceiving their habitat reflected in glass.

Nick has expanded his bird banding research with appointments at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory in California and at the Powdermill Avian Research Center in Pennsylvania. His bi-coastal experiences have given him tremendous insight into the struggles birds face when they encounter North American cities. This unique perspective is defined by promoting healthy landscapes across the multitude of environments that birds traverse as they migrate, from forests to cities. 

As a research fellow at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Nick leverages his cross-disciplinary background with the depth of resources at the museum, such as the Bird Safe Pittsburgh Program. With his endorsement by the American Bird Conservancy and the American Institute of Architects to teach about bird-safe cities and buildings, he unites architects, planners, policy makers, and scientists around the protection of birds in cities.

If you find a banded bird, report it!

Board Members

Karen Blumen

Eddy Man Kim

Claire Nemes

Jon Rice

Brooke Wyatt

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