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Queen City Bird Festival 2008

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The inaugural Queen City Bird Festival, Saturday, May 3rd was a grand success! Over 150 people attended the event at the College of Mount St. Joseph and the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse. The day began with intermittent rain showers, which forced us to move our activities inside. But, within a couple of hours, the sun came out and we were able to take bird walks and band birds. Not only were birds banded, but guests were banded and had their wings (arms) measured!


The day began with the blessing of the newly opened Clifford Bird Observatory (CBO) bird banding station at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse. The banding station is named after Sr. Adele Clifford, an avid birder and the former chair of the Biology Department at the College of Mount St. Joseph, as well as a former president of the college. Over 40 people attended the service, including 3 of Sr. Adele Clifford’s relatives. Srs. Georgia Kitt, Annette Muckerheide, and Marty Dermody led the group in the blessings of the banding station. The CBO has been operating since November 2007 and over 100 birds have been banded. Bird banding was conducted every Thursday during the winter months, and now, during migration, we are banding as many days as possible. The warblers have arrived in mass, and the chorus of bird calls in the morning is absolutely captivating!

Following the blessing, activities moved over to the College of Mount St. Joseph property. The rain forced us to move our activities into the EarthConnection building – which actually worked out really well. Children’s activities, guest banding, face painting and guest speakers all found a place in EarthConnection and the guests began arriving!

Thanks to a grant from Oxbow, Inc., we were able to provide lots of children’s activities including:

  • Bird Feet Are Neat: Museum specimens (on loan from the Miami University Bird Collection) of different bird feet were used to describe several types of bird feet and explain how each helps a bird survive in its habitat. A worksheet with pictures of birds wearing the “wrong” feet was handed out and children tried to figure out which birds go with which feet. Then the children made a bird out of art supplies, drawing the correct type of foot for their bird.
  • Fill the Bill: Again, museum specimens of different bird heads were used to describe five different types of beaks and explain how each is adapted to feed on different foods. The different bird beaks got the kids thinking about how beaks help birds survive. Five different stations were set up, each with a special type of “food” that fits one of the different types of beaks discussed above. A set of 5 different tools were also provided, and children had to test the tools and see which tool worked best at getting nectar, worms in mud, cracking nuts, straining zooplankton, and catching fish. Upon completion of the activity, children decorated masks with various feathers, glitter, etc.QCBF08_2
  • Molt the Duck: Museum specimens of birds in different plumages (breeding, immature, winter) were used to define molting and explain that many birds have different feather colors and patterns when they’re young than they do when they’re adults, as well as different feathers during mating season. Children colored pictures of ducks (both Mallards) but in different plumages, so they could see the difference between an adult breeding male and an immature bird.
  • Name that Bird: Pictures of 16 common birds found in our area were displayed and children were taught how to use a field guide to look for features or characteristics that can help you identify birds. After discussing the different field characters of a few birds, the children were given binoculars and taught how to use them. They were instructed to find things outside, through the window and discuss what they saw. A beginning birdwatcher’s page was given to each child, along with a color photo of a bird for them to take home and begin studying birds on their own.
  • Bird Walks: Once the sun came out, we were able to take 2 children’s bird walks. The children used the binoculars from “Name that Bird” and were led through the yard and the small woods behind EarthConnection. They got good views of cardinals and robins!
  • Face Painting: Anatomically correct birds were painted on the cheeks of almost every child that attended the festival! Beautiful! This activity was definitely a hit!
  • Bird Bingo: Children played bird bingo, which enabled discussion of the different types of birds and what their songs sound like. Following the completion of the game, the children decorated door hangers with art supplies.

Once the sun came out, we were able to put up mist nets at the Clifford Bird Observatory and catch birds for banding. We also put up a demo net behind EarthConnection, and what do you know, we caught birds – lots of birds! Right there where we were sitting! Between the two locations, a total of ten (10) birds were banded including:

  • 2 Carolina Chickadees
  • 3 Northern Cardinals
  • 1 Eastern Towhee
  • 2 Tufted Titmice
  • 1 White-throated Sparrow
  • 1 Orchard Oriole (gorgeous male in breeding plumage!)


Along with all of the children’s activities, several well known local birders presented talks. These talks were mainly attended by the “grown‐ups” because the kids were having way too much fun with other activities! Talks included:

  • Migration & Bird Banding: David Russell
  • Birding in Cincinnati: Ned Keller
  • Ohio’s Young Birder’s Club: Kathy McDonald
  • Birds in your Backyard: Casey Tucker
  • Birds Without Borders: Jill Russell (talk was cancelled, because the sun had come out and we had birds in the net and were just too busy having fun banding birds to come inside for a talk!)


Several groups set up booths at the Festival, including:

  • Oxbow, Inc.
  • Hamilton County Parks
  • Keystone Flora, native plant nursery
  • Raptors, Inc.
  • Western Wildlife Corridor
  • Avian Research and Education Institute (AREI)
  • Wildbirds Unlimited

Standard Fare provided musical entertainment until the rain threatened to ruin their equipment. We’ll be better prepared next year! So, we played CDs inside and learned bird calls! Now for some science… Every person who stopped by the registration table was banded and had their wings (arms) measured. We used the band numbers for our hourly drawings for prizes. Eighty-seven (87) individuals were banded (some guests chose not to be banded). Of the 87 banded guests:

  • 56 were female and 34 were male – see Figure 1
  • 29 were children, 58 were adults
  • Wing span varied across ages – see Figure 2
  • Peak banding hour was at 11am – see Figure 3


Over 20 people volunteered their time to make this year’s Queen City Bird Festival a success! Here’s a big shout out to all of you fabulous volunteers! Sweet, sweet, little more sweet!!!

Thank you all for enabling this inaugural Queen City Bird Festival to turn out so well! Let’s do it again next year!


Figure 1
QCBF08 Figure 1

A total of 87 individuals were banded at the Queen City Bird Festival 2008. See key to species names below. Most abundant species were ABLG (Avid Bird Lover Guest) N=21 and GSSG (Grade School Student Guest) N=19.

PSSG Pre School Student Guest
PSPG Pre School Parent Guest
GSSG Grade School Student Guest
GSPG Grade School Parent Guest
MSSG Middle School Student Guest
MSPG Middle School Parent Guest
HSSG High School Student Guest
HSPG High School Parent Guest
CUSG College/University Student Guest
CUPG College/University Parent Guest
ABLG Avid Bird Lover Guest
BFVG Bird Festival Volunteer Guest

Figure 2
QCBF Figure 2

A total of 87 individuals had their wings (arms) measured at the Queen City Bird Festival 2008. Longest wing was a BVFG with a 31 inch wing and the shortest wing was a PSSG with an 11 inch wing.

Figure 3
QCBF08 Figure 3

87 individuals were banded throughout the day at the Queen City Bird Festival 2008. Approximately 50 guests were not banded. Peak banding hours were 11:00am (N=18) and 1:00pm (N=14).