MAPS Prep: An Advanced 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 for the spring 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 will 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 MAPS Prep


Braddock Bay Bird Observatory is pleased to offer an advanced class aimed at preparing banders who are currently involved with or who are considering opening MAPS stations.  The course will run from the evening of Saturday May 22 through the morning of Wednesday May 26.

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.  Students will primarily focus on processing birds at the banding table using MAPS datasheets and protocols.  There will be some opportunity for interested students to work on best-practice extraction techniques as well, but our primary aim is to promote accurate aging, sexing, and scoring across a variety of measurement categories.

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

  • Aging birds, especially by molt, plumage characteristics, and skull
  • Passerine and near-passerine molt sequences and strategies, using both the the traditional Humphrey-Parkes-Howell age classification system and 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
  • An introduction to the overall MAPS protocol and requirements

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 spring migration.  As this is an advanced workshop, we ask that participants have prior mist-netting and banding/processing experience of at least 200 birds.  Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Course tuition is $300, which includes all materials. There is a $50 discount for students and early professionals (within five years of a terminal degree) who are 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 $100 (although note that this option is not available in 2021).

Because space in this course is 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 January.  Upon acceptance into the course, a $100 deposit is required to confirm the seat; full payment is due on or before April 15. 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 MAPS Prep Workshop please contact Andrea Patterson.