Twenty fourth-graders, grouped in teams of 3 and 4, hold their hands above their buzzers as biologist Andrew Pierson reads the question. He scans the 20 pairs of eyes watching him, letting the anticipation build, and finishes the question. Hands hit buzzers, bells ring and a light comes on to indicate which team was first. Answers fly, and the points for the correct one are tallied for the winning team. Just another day, just another PEEP program.
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has been running bird banding stations in the Nebraska panhandle for the past four years at Chadron State Park and five years at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. We set up nets in the same locations year after year in order to study the local and migratory bird populations and to provide up-close and personal looks at birds to schoolchildren and members of the general public. This year, all is well at the Wildcat Hills station, but things were looking very grim for Chadron State Park at the beginning of the banding season.