The fall songbird banding program at the Allegheny Front Migratory Observatory (AFMO) is approaching noteworthy dates: the half-century mark since the trial banding weekend on the mountain in mid-September, 1958; and the fiftieth anniversary of its sustained, site-based banding program that began early in September 1959. These dates represent a remarkable record! It is a record that deserves a notice and attention well beyond that normally afforded the station by its dedicated volunteers and friends. As these golden anniversaries approach in 2008 and 2009, many people, especially those just learning about the station, will be interested in the AFMO’s activities and its accomplishments. In my own case, the spring migration and MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding crews that I routinely assist ask questions about AFMO, knowing that I’ve a connection with AFMO’s beginning and now occasionally visit the station. The Station Overview compiled here highlights’ recent operations. People will be curious too about the start-up and early banding at Red Creek Campground, a primitive and seldom-visited facility half a century ago. Archival records and other primary source materials, at Starting AFMO, speak to that phase of the station’s history and of the volunteers who pioneered fall banding on the Allegheny Front.

Visitors to this website may have ideas for celebrating these AFMO benchmarks. AFMO’s sponsor surely would welcome suggestions and/or information adding to the station history too. The station’s cadre of steadfast volunteers, banders and non banders alike, merit applause. Those stalwarts, including individuals no longer living, who tirelessly staffed the effort for years – really, for decades, in some cases – certainly deserve a special salute in the celebration. The half-century mark is a good time, also, to think about the future and what’s ahead for AFMO. A look, for example, to sister banding stations, like Kiptopeke on Virginia’s eastern shore, may be instructive. Kiptopke, founded in 1962 and historically similar in key respects to AFMO, proudly celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2002. That station thrives today on broad public support and a strong institutional base. Presque Isle and Long Point are among other long-running fall banding stations. Recommendations about the station’s future operation would, I believe, be appreciated too.

Gordon A. Knight
An AFMO Booster

Click on the links below to learn more about the AFMO.
Station Overview
Starting AFMO
Looking Forward

Other Links
Brooks Bird Club
West Virginia Birding Facts and Resources by the Fat Birder
Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Program
Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory
CVWO News from Kiptopeke

If you have any question, concerns, or comments, please send them to

West Virginia Renewable Resources Unique Areas Series 813, Dolly Sods, West Virginia University Extension Service, by N.J. Venable, 1996, third printing.
The Redstart. 52 (4), 123
The Redstart. 71(2), 56-60
The Redstart. 72(2), 71-78
The Redstart. 70(4), 106-131
Virginia Wildlife. 64 (11), 8-11
Transcript and interview. “Dr. George A. Hall talks about AFMO’s beginning at Red Creek Campground”, an interview recorded by Randy Ritter, September 1996.

This website was last updated February 19, 2007.