Point Blue's Education Program offers field trips to Point Blue's Palomarin Field Station and other Marin County research sites to observe mist-netting and bird banding demonstrations. Each year approximately 1,000 students participate in this program, providing them with the opportunity to observe science in action.

Read on to find out how to visit us.



Drop In

Drop-in visits are welcome at our Palomarin Field Station in Bolinas, CA in groups of 7 or less. If you have a group larger than 7, please contact us to schedule a visit.  See below for details.

We're closed on all major holidays.

See the banding schedule and more information below.

Address
999 Mesa Road (for UPS/FedEx)
PO Box 1157 (for U.S. Postal Service)
Bolinas CA 94924
Directions

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Schedule a Visit

If you have a larger group and would like to schedule a school, community, or family group tour at our Palomarin Field Station or one of Point Blue's other banding sites in Marin County or beyond, please contact Point Blue's Field Station Education Coordinator, Lishka Arata.

Field Trip Duration: Each visit lasts approximately 1-1.5 hours.

Field Trip Availablity and Parameters: We can schedule field trips throughout the year. See banding schedule below. Scheduled visits are offered only in the mornings (before 11 am) and are dependent on staff and banding schedule availability. Please plan your trip at least 2-3 weeks in advance as our fall and spring field trip schedule fills up quickly. Our maximum capacity is about 30 visitors per 1-1.5 hour period at a given site.

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Banding Schedule

At our Palomarin Field Station in Bolinas, CA:

May to Thanksgiving- sunrise to noon every day but Monday;
Thanksgiving to May- sunrise to noon Wednesdays and Weekends

Closed on all major holidays.

Note: The mist-nets are opened 15 min. after sunrise and remain open for 6 hours each day. Come by early (between 8-11 am) for the best chance of seeing birds. Nets are not open on rainy or windy days. Call our hotline (415) 868-0655 ext. 395 to check conditions.

For visits to other banding research sites in West Marin County, CA and beyond, please contact our Field Station Education Coordinator, Lishka Arata.

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Commonly Asked Questions

What is a Mist-netting and Bird Banding Demonstration?

Mist-nets are soft fine nets used by scientists to safely capture and release songbirds for bird banding. At Point Blue's Visitor Center at the Palomarin Field Station, visitors and groups are encouraged to observe our biologists as they work. Drop in visits are encouraged for groups of 7 or fewer.

Do the bands hurt the birds?

No, the band fits around their leg, loose like a bracelet, not as tight as a watch.

Does the band impede their flying?

No, studies on captive birds have shown no effect. The bands are made of aluminum, (the same material soda cans are made from) and they are very light.

The birds seem so calm as you are holding them, why is that?

The biologists hold the birds in what is called the "bander's grip". The bird's wings are pressed against the banders' hand and their fingers rest gently on the bird' shoulders. In this position, they can not struggle and are gently held for the short minutes it takes us to place a band on their leg before releasing them.

Do you ever catch the same bird twice, or twice in one day?

Yes, about 30% of the birds we catch are re-captured. It is really our hope to re-capture birds. That way we can learn things such as how long birds live (survivorship) and how birds change in appearance as they age. When we re-capture migratory birds from season to season we learn that the individual survived the winter and migration to and from it's wintering ground in central America. We occasionally catch the same bird multiple times in one day. This is more common during the breeding season when birds are very busy defending territories, feeding young, and tending nests.

If you catch a bird again, do you just let it go or do you still band it?

If we catch a bird that already has a band, we still collect all the data from it, especially the band number, because this can teach us about how the bird has changed since we last captured it.

Why are you banding birds here?

We have been banding birds at the Palomarin Field Station since 1966. Because of this we now have the longest continuous data set on songbirds west of the Mississippi. Long term studies allow us to track changes in bird populations and relate them to factors such as weather, restoration, and habitat change. From our data, we can draw conclusions about how best to manage habitat to maintain healthy bird populations.

What are the most commonly caught birds in your nets?

The most commonly caught species in mist nets at Point Blue's Palomarin Field Station by season are:

Year Round:
American Robin
Anna's Hummingbird
Bewicks Wren
Black Phoebe
Brown Creeper
Bushtit
California Towhee
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Hairy Woodpecker
House Finch
Nuttall's White-crowned Sparrow
Oregon Junco
Purple Finch
Red-shafted Flicker
Western Scrub-Jay
Song Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Stellers Jay
Winter Wren
Wrentit
Fall:
Allen's Hummingbird
American Goldfinch
Barn Swallow
Black-headed Grosbeak
Common Yellowthroat
Hermit Thrush
Hutton's Vireo
Lincoln Sparrow
Mac Gillivray's Warbler
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Orange-crowned Warbler
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Pine Siskin
Puget Sound White-crowned Sparrow
Rufous Hummingbird
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Swainson's Thrush
Townsend's Warbler
Tree Swallow
Warbling Vireo
Western Flycatcher
Western Wood-pewee
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
 
Spring and Summer:
Allen's Hummingbird
American Goldfinch
Barn Swallow
Black-headed Grosbeak
Hutton's Vireo
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Orange-crowned Warbler
Pacific Slope Flycatcher
Rufous Hummingbird
Swainson's Thrush
Tree Swallow
Warbling Vireo
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Winter:
Fox Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Hermit Thrush
Pugent-sound White-crowned Sparrow
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Townsend's Warbler
Varied Thrush

 

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