March 2023 Volunteer of the month

March 01, 2023

The March 2023 Volunteer of the Month is Alison VanKeuren.

By Beth MacCallum, Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator

Alison has volunteered with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve bird banding program since 2010.  His overall skill and patience with new banders is one of the many reasons Alison was chosen by preserve Field Ecologist and Entomologist, Amanda Dillon.

Originally growing up in Colorado, Alison has traveled the world and calls the Capital District home.  His volunteer service at the preserve is notable but it isn’t the only place you will find him banding and extracting birds. Alison has gained experience banding raptors with Bob Yunick winter through spring, banding at the NYSDEC Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship Station at Five Rivers, and even banding tropical birds in South America. For two weeks each year he also bands at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory in Hiton, NY.  Every week he volunteers at the New York State Museum  where he has helped to catalogue the bird egg collection. Most recently he has completed a challenge to see at least 100 species of birds  in each of the 62 counties of New York State.

Alison’s favorite part of his volunteer service is interacting with all the volunteers and staff in the banding effort.  His favorite portion of the banding effort is seeking Northern Saw-whet owls.  He enjoys the quiet of the preserve on these expeditions and the great personality those little owls have.  Alison’s favorite bird in the preserve is the Prairie Warbler.

Of Alison’s service Dillon says, “In addition to helping run the stations, he has helped us by sewing and repairing bird bags and net bags, as well as constructing sticks that we use to raise the nets. He is here early in the mornings for our summer station and comes into the wee hours of the night to help band Northern saw-whet owls at our owl station. Alison is always quick to help others at the station and instruct new banders and extractors. He can always be counted on to do whatever is the most helpful, which has made him an invaluable member of our bird banding team. It is for these reasons that I nominate Alison for Volunteer of the Month to honor and thank him for his years of service with our APBP Bird Banding Program. Thank you Alison!”

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