A Conservation Education Program grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources allowed Luther College and the Decorah Raptor Resource Project to build an autumn migration banding station on campus to collect data, provide field-based research opportunities, and deliver environmental education to youth. The banding station, located on Hawk Hill on the northeast edge of the Luther campus, is large enough for classes to observe wild birds, band them, and gather data before releasing them back into the wild.
Falconer Dave Noble designed and built the station with the help of Dave Kester, John Howe, and Amy Ries. Funds from the grant allow us to hire six Luther students and two master banders to staff the station. The grant ended in 2019, but we’ve continued to operate our Hawk Hill station and added a station on the Mississippi River over in the Wyalusing, Wisconsin area.
Hawk Hill Tally, 2023
Number (55 total)
Wyalusing Tally, 2023
Number (255 total)
Our interns were wonderful! They were engaged, attentive, and excited to learn all aspects of our banding
program. We also saw a lot of visitors this year, including a group from the World Owl conference, students, educators, and homeschool groups from Luther College, Upper Iowa University, Carleton College, Pleasant Valley Homeschool Association, the Decorah and Postville K-12 school systems, 4H, and individual families.
Autumn was long and warm, which meant fewer big days and a long, extended migration. Hawk Hill had a good year, but our Wisconsin station had a banner year and has the potential to become a landmark site, especially given its place on the Mississippi River. More research needs to be done on migration through North America’s biggest Central Flyway and we are the people to do it!
I’ve witnessed an increase from other organizations using sites such as ours as important partners in monitoring population, migration, and health changes in raptors as global climate change increases in frequency and intensity. Programs such as this are as important as ever, if not more. Thank you for supporting our work.
– Dave Kester, Master Bander and Station Master
Our mission calls on us to help birds of prey thrive, educate people about raptors and their habitats, and transform research and passion into conservation action. Our banding station is an essential part of that charge. We are very grateful to the Iowa DNR for funding our program for its first two years. The Iowa DNR and local conservation boards do a wonderful job protecting Iowa’s resources. To learn more about Iowa’s Conservation Education Program, please follow this link: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/REAP/REAP-Funding-at-Work/Conservation-Education. If you would like to talk to Dave about our educational outreach program, please email Amy Ries at [email protected].