Fifth annual bird migration open house inspires love of nature in Okanagan Falls

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Visitors at the Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory learn more about birds and their migration. – Sep 22, 2019

People have flocked to the Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory to greet thousands of tiny guests as they receive small aluminum bands around their legs in the name of science.

“Bird banding is a technique we use in ecological biology to track songbirds,” said Matthias Bieber, bander-in-charge, Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory.

“But it really has to do with tracking the birds and tagging them in a way we can recognize them when we recapture them and that is a really good way of keeping an eye on bird populations as a whole.”

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The Vaseux Lake Bird Observatory welcomed nature lovers to its site on Sept. 22 to watch songbirds be captured, weighed, checked and receive some new hardware, a nine-digit code on a small piece of aluminum wrapped loosely around its leg. The observatory has marked more than 2,000 songbirds so far. Bieber said that once the bird is captured in a net it only takes 30 seconds to process the tiny creature and then it is set free.

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“You can’t love something you don’t know, so this is an opportunity to get to know and appreciate what’s so special about this place (the South Okanagan_,
said Ella Braden of the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Association.

“That helps people appreciate why the wildlife refuge is here and why we are doing the banding and the school programs but it also just brings a spark because when you interact with something you can truly start to love it and value it.”

The information that is collected about each bird is then given to scientists and other conservation offices around North America to help monitor bird migration.