Rushton Banding Station Final Spring Update


Thanks for a wonderful season and look for fall banding information arriving in late August!

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Spring migration banding came to a screeching halt a week earlier than anticipated.   The lack of migrants in the trees and in our nets was a sign that birds bound for the north had moved through.   Instead of  brightly colored warblers, we were catching our own breeding birds sometimes again and again.

Ovenbird by Adrian Binns
Ovenbirds are small, inconspicuous birds that build their nests on the forest floor throughout Rushton Woods.

Banding in the vicinity of nests and nestlings puts pressure on the parents and their ability to incubate and feed their young.   By closing the nets for the season we eliminated that stressor and insured that Rushton’s breeders will have a good chance to raise big healthy broods.  It was the right thing to do.

Before we made that decision, however, a  Pileated Woodpecker gave us some last minute excitement.  We finally caught  the “Woody Woodpecker” bird and on a day of celebration!

Young Pileated Woodpecker
This Pileated woodpecker was the grand finale of our spring migration banding season!

We were celebrating the completion of the banding shelter with Marge and Art Miller whose Chester County Community Foundation provided the funds for the project.  The shelter gives us a level floor, protection from the elements, storage, a gorgeous spruce table and lots of light.   Cody Pitz, the Eagle Scout who completed the huge building assignment, wore his circa 1910 scout uniform-straight out of Norman Rockwell.   Cody’s mom and dad, architect Dick Bensing and lots of banding friends were also on hand as WCT officials offered their appreciation for the generous grant and Cody’s leadership and hard work.

Contributors to the Banding Shelter
(From Left) Architect Dick Bensing, Marge Miller, Eagle scout Cody Pitz, and Art Miller.


Reporters from The Malvern Patch filmed the story.   If you want to see the article and two short interviews, take a look at  You’ll also see more footage of the Pileated Woodpecker.


That was the good news.  Saw-whet Owls and Pileated Woodpeckers wear the same size band – #4.  All my owl banding equipment is stored together and separately from passerine equipment because they are never used together and there’s no point dragging it all around all year.   Therefore, the size 4 band I needed was in it’s special safe storage space in my basement and we had to release Woody unbanded.  That was a disappointment that could have been avoided.  It may take some time, but we’ll catch another Woody one of these days.  The pair flies over and around our nets all the time.   I carry size 4 bands everywhere now!


We banded a total of 450 birds of more than 40 species.  As our first spring attempt, we are very pleased with the results.  I think we can anticipate starting a week earlier next year.  I think we’ll move some nets that weren’t as productive in spring as in fall.  I know we’ll welcome back our talented and loyal banding assistants, Lou Hahn, Denis Brennan, Win Shafer, Godefroy Devevey, Jamie Miller and Erika Arnold.

white-eyed vireo by Adrian Binns
This exquisite White-eyed vireo was one of the more surprising visitors to Rushton this spring.

The fall season should start in the last week of August, give or take a little.  We’ll have to see when north winds begin bringing the birds back to us.  And, I believe our banding days will again be Tuesday and Wednesday.  We plan to start Saw-whet Owl banding in early-mid October.

Northern saw-whet owl
Northern Saw-whet owl migration typically peaks in late October, right around Halloween!

Enjoy your summer, relax, watch birds and I hope to

See you in the woods.