[ANN BROWN] is one of 200 residents of the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia helping Peter Marra, an animal ecologist at SERC, determine how land use impacts bird populations in urban, suburban and rural settings. Participants like Brown, or Ed and Margaret Missiaen of Southeast Washington, are asked to record data about birds in both breeding and nonbreeding seasons. They track the birds from nest-building to egg-laying to the hatching of young to the return of the color-banded birds year after year.
Brown has had better luck. Every day she explores a two-block radius near her apartment building in search of the eight species of birds on Neighborhood Nestwatch's most wanted list: cardinals, song sparrows, Carolina wrens, house wrens, mockingbirds, robins, Carolina chickadees and catbirds. Recently she observed a song sparrow -- banded by Marra -- that had returned to her neighborhood. "I walked right up to it. I knew it was the bird -- it had a yellow band on the left leg and aluminum and orange bands on the right." She frequently spots a pair of mockingbirds that were banded in April of 2002. "You feel like you have a connection with them," says Brown. Every time she sees the mockingbirds, she runs home to call her husband.
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