Bird Banding 101

Just like every department, The Preserve team has unique ways in measuring successes for Shaker Village. Since we started converting cool season pastures to native warm season grasses and wildflowers in 2009, we have dramatically changed the vegetative composition of the landscape. The majority of the changes we’ve made to the landscape were done to enhance the habitat of grassland obligate songbirds, such as the Northern Bobwhite Quail. Essentially, if you build and maintain good habitat for quail, then you raise the level of habitat for all songbirds. So, how can we tell whether this project has been a success?

Bird Banding at Shaker Village from Shaker Village on Vimeo.

Bird Banding is a metric we use to determine if we have been successful with our habitat enhancement that involves capturing birds using the protocols set forth by the Institute for Bird Populations’ Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program. We set up mesh nets and check them at regular time intervals. The birds are removed from the nets and placed in protective bags, then checked for fat stores, breeding condition, feather wear and age by trained wildlife biologists. After that, the birds are released back into the wild.

This project was set up to obtain four years of baseline data in an abandoned cool season pasture, then convert the pasture to native warm season grasses and wildflowers, while continuing to collect data for a total of 10 years. This gives us an idea of how the property was used before the conversion, as well as what impact our conversion has had on bird health and overall numbers. What we’ve found after nine years of MAPS efforts is that birds LOVE what we’ve done with the place. Number of captures have been slightly up during the breeding season (May-July), but way up during the migration season (September-November). On Sept. 7 of this year, we captured our 100th species at the Shaker Village banding station! This milestone is significant in that not only are our capture numbers high, our diversity is high as well. High population numbers, along with high levels of diversity, equate to a high-five from the bird community!

We do what we can to keep our birds (and other wildlife) happy. Check out the bird blind area or take a hike on one of our trails to see The Preserve for yourself.


The Preserve and trails will be closed Mondays – Fridays from Nov. 1 – Dec. 29 for private hunts, habitat and wildlife management and trail restoration work. Learn more.


Ben Leffew is the preserve manager. A Kentucky Proud product straight out of…

We set The Preserve on fire!

If you were driving through Central Kentucky last week, you may have noticed some smoke coming from our way. Don’t worry… we meant to do that. No, really, we did. On Friday, the preserve team burned about 450 acres… on purpose!

Prescribed fire can be defined as a fire applied in a skillful manner to wildland fuels, in a predetermined place, under exacting weather conditions, to achieve specific management objectives.

Prescribed burns are part of the annual management plan of The Preserve to promote high quality brood rearing habitat for northern bobwhite quail and grassland songbirds. Adjacent unburned fields act as refuges and will be used as nesting habitat. Joining the Shaker Village preserve team on Friday were partners from Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky Division of Forestry and Copperhead Consulting as well as regional volunteers and the local fire department. While we can’t provide this experience to daily guests due to safety reasons, we’d like to share it with you here:

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Learn more about our land conservation efforts. Watch a video of last week’s burn.


Ben Leffew is the preserve manager. A Kentucky Proud product straight out of Boyle County, Ben’s formal and informal education has prepared him to take on any conservation challenge…