Photo © Kay Bunkers

Bird Banding at Farm Island and Fisherman Point

GFP started a banding project in 1992 to document bird use of a representative site (Farm Island 

Nature Area) containing remnant riparian cottonwood forest habitats along the Missouri River in central South Dakota during spring and fall migrations. These habitats have continued to decline in the more than 50 years since Lake Sharpe was created. GFP has banded each spring and fall at Farm Island Recreation Area since 1992. In the spring of 2004 we opened a second banding station at Fisherman Point, located within the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area. The year 2011 was the exception to the consecutive string of spring and fall banding sessions when extreme flooding prevented access to the sites.

Bird banding is a valuable tool to monitor bird populations, document the importance of particular sites or habitats to birds and conduct a variety of scientific studies. Although any capture and handling of a wild animal presents a risk of injury or death, properly conducted bird banding is a very safe practice. Bird banding is typically done during mild weather conditions. Banding in the U.S. is done under the oversight of the Bird Banding Lab within the U.S. Geological Survey. Additional marking or sampling requests, such as blood or feather extraction, are reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Migratory Bird Program.


Funding for this activity is provided by SDGFP, Wildlife Division. In recent years, these funds have been used as a match for federal Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) funds (Project No.: W-95-R-51, Study No. 9509-IV). Banding is permitted under USGS-BBL Federal Bird Banding Permit #21966, issued to the State of South Dakota – Nongame, Pierre, South Dakota.