Back to Basics (and Alternates): An Advanced Molt Workshop

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to offer hands-on instruction in a safe way as it requires close contact, “over the shoulder” supervision, passing birds and tools back and forth, etc. We will be offering classes in 2021, but they will be modified in the following ways: (1) all instructors will be fully vaccinated (i.e. receiving a final dose at least two weeks before the start of class), (2) all students must be fully vaccinated, (3) class size will be limited to 4 students, (4) the BBBO field house may not be available, and (5) some lectures may be conducted virtually. We will offer exemptions to the vaccination requirement for medical reasons only. We realize that some people will not be able to attend under these conditions, but we are committed to the health and safety of our students, volunteers, and local community.

Announcement for the 2021 Advanced Molt Workshop


Braddock Bay Bird Observatory is pleased to offer an Advanced Molt Workshop, running from the afternoon of Wednesday July 21 through the morning of Sunday July 25, 2020. This workshop is aimed at banders who are currently involved with or who are considering opening MAPS stations, and at migration or project-based banders who desire a better grasp of molt and other aging techniques.

Mornings will feature hands-on training in the field at the Kaiser-Manitou Beach Banding Station located just northwest of Rochester, NY on the shore of Lake Ontario, with a possible option to spend one or two mornings at satellite MAPS stations in the area. MAPS datasheets and protocol will be used on at least some mornings.

Afternoons will be devoted to lectures, demonstrations and in-depth instruction on various aspects of bird banding including:

  • Aging birds, especially by molt, plumage characteristics, and skull
  • Passerine and near-passerine molt sequences and strategies, including a lecture specifically on woodpecker molt sequences
  • A comparison of the traditional Humphrey-Parkes age classification system with the newer Wolfe-Ryder-Pyle cycle-based age classification system
  • Discussions of all aspects of the MAPS datasheet, including accurately coding feather tracts as to their plumage generation; locating molt limits; recognizing and scoring cloacal protuberances and brood patches; assessing body molt, flight feather molt, and flight feather wear; and quantifying the extent of skull development

The course has been approved by the North American Banding Council, uses training manuals produced by the NABC, and is taught by Andrea Patterson – an NABC-certified Trainer who has taught more than 175 students in small hands-on workshops at BBBO and in Belize. Participants will receive a certificate of participation from the NABC upon successful completion of the course.

The five-day course is timed to coincide with the peak of juvenile fledging and dispersal as well as with the onset of adult molt, which challenges students to employ all age classifications (HY, SY, AHY, ASY, and U) at once. As this is an advanced workshop, we ask that participants have prior mist-netting and banding/processing experience of at least 200 birds.

Course tuition is $300, which includes all materials. There is a $50 discount for students and early professionals (within five years of terminal degree) pursuing careers in avian ecology and who will be paying their own way.  Course participants can elect to be housed at the BBBO field house for an additional fee of $50 (although note that we are unsure if this option will be available for summer 2021).

Because space in this course is extremely limited, priority will be given to those with the opportunity to use these skills either in their work or as volunteers.  Invitations to join the class will be sent in March.  Upon acceptance into the course, a $100 deposit is required to confirm the seat; full payment is due on or before June 22. Tuition and housing are refundable minus a $25 administrative fee if the participant cancels prior to the final payment deadline.

To apply, fill out the online form.  For additional information about the Advanced Molt Workshop please contact Andrea Patterson.   

%d bloggers like this: