Here at the Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC) we have been banding and researching birds since 1961. Throughout the year we welcome visitors to see our operation whether you are an individual, small group, family, or school group (elementary- through college-level).
A visit to our lab allows you to observe the trained staff as they identify, band, age, measure and weigh the many birds that have been captured that day; whether it be for a pit-stop during migration or to spend either summer or winter in the diverse habitat near the lab. If time and conditions allow, visitors can accompany our researchers on a net check to see how the birds are caught or learn about how we research bird-safe glass.
If you would like to visit the banding lab, timing will be important. Although we do band year-round, spring (mid-April-May) and fall (September-October) migration offer the greatest diversity and numbers of birds. Nevertheless, each season has something to offer. Spring has the showiest birds, with their dapper plumage for breeding. In the summer you can see what a bird in “breeding condition” or what a young fledgling looks like. In the fall, you can admire birds’ fresh “basic” plumage and learn how to identify those confusing fall warblers. And in the winter you can meet some of your bird-feeder favorites.
We open our nets one half hour before sunrise and close them six hours later. Because birds are the most active in the morning, an hour or two after dawn is typically the best time to visit. The Banding Lab is small and can fit about 15-20 people. If you have over 20 participants, we can accommodate your group (up to 50 visitors) by dividing into smaller groups that will rotate through our stations (banding, bird capture, and glass research).
Keep in mind that banding is weather-dependant and plans can change at the last minute if there is inclement weather such as rain or high winds. Even high temperatures can force us to close early.
If you are interested in visiting the lab, we would love to share our passion for birds with you, but it is important to call and make arrangements. To schedule a visit, please call the Banding Lab (724.593.7521) or email our Avian Research Coordinator, Luke DeGroote. If you are bringing a group to Powdermill, you may also want to speak with our Senior Educator, Lauren Horner, about other programs Powdermill has to offer (724.593.6105).