History of Bird Research in Zion

The first bird banding in Zion started in 1934. According to the superintendent’s annual report of 1935, the purpose of this work was “to determine the various birds inhabiting or migrating through the park each year; to study the habits of these birds; to study local migration dates; and to aid in the study of nationwide migration routes…” Over 545 birds reflecting 19 different species were banded. These included 310 Oregon Juncos and 135 Gambel Sparrows.

Bird banding involves trapping the bird, recording data such as measurements, and placing a small band around a leg to denote to future researchers that it has been documented. In 1965, the Zion Natural History Association (now Zion Forever) published Birds of Zion National Park and Vicinity. At this time, 233 bird species had been identified in and around Zion National Park. As of 2020, 291 bird species have been identified in the park with 450 specimens in the park museum collection.

Zion National Park participates in the annual Christmas Bird Count organized by the National Audubon Society. This community-based activity was established over 100 years ago. Birders survey 15-mile diameter circular areas across the Americas between December 14 and January 5 each year. The count provides information on species presence. The most recent count at Zion National Park, which identified 75 bird species, took place on December 14, 2019. This information, together with the study of bird specimens, yields taxonomic as well as ecological data essential to managing park natural resources.

Measuring bird specimens
Black and white photograph of bird in cage
Zion page field study
speciem label
speciem label
Sand piper observation
Behind the Scenes: Zion Museum Specimens