As part of our demographic study of grassland birds breeding at Powell Butte Nature Park we have been color-banding Savannah Sparrows under scientific research collecting permits with USGS and ODFW since 2019. Banding birds allows us to track individuals, which is necessary to study demographic rates such as annual survivorship, nest success and lifetime fecundity. Each bird is banded with 1 aluminum USGS band and 3 darvic plastic color bands in a unique combination that allows for later identification of individuals without the need to recapture birds. Each spring, we conduct band resighting surveys to find the location of sparrows returning to breed at our study sites. Savannah sparrows have strong breeding site fidelity making this a very useful tool to track individuals throughout their lifespan.
During 2022, we are asking the volunteers participating in our Powell Butte Grassland Bird Surveys to help us track sparrows across the Butte! The ongoing construction project at Powell Butte will displace sparrows that previously nested on the meadow above Reservoir 1 in 2021 due to the temporary loss of grassland habitat in this area. We expect that due to their strong site fidelity these sparrows will return to Powell Butte to breed in 2022, but will be forced to disperse to other areas on the Butte. Since we don't know exactly where these sparrows will settle to breed, having extra eyes watching out for these previously color-banded birds will help us to locate them and enable us to monitor their reproductive performance during this period of displacement from their former breeding areas.
To make it easy to report sightings of previously color-banded Savannah Sparrows at Powell Butte we have created a Google Form to report your data (just click the button below). We have also attached a document below for download that describes how to read and report color bands. If you have any questions just send us a message via email.