Auburn Bird Banding
(Click to enlarge, use back button to return )
Mark Blazis, who holds a Master's degree from Clark University, is a former National Science Teacher of the Year, and 1992 winner of the Nature Educator of the Year Award, sponsored by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.† He is currently writing a twice weekly column on the great outdoors for the Telegram and Gazette. Mr. Blazis, who has taught at Clark University and Auburn High School, retired in June of 2005 from his position as a science teacher at Auburn Middle School.† Master Bird Bander, Mark works with the United States Geological Surveys tracking spring and fall migrations of songbirds and Mark has been a long time director of a MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) Station in Grafton, Massachusetts.† Mark has studied eagles under Dr. Bruce Wright at the University of Alaska, Juneau, and has studied birds on six continents.† Not only does he conduct research and banding at the Auburn Bird Banding Program, but he also leads two trips with teams of eighth graders on an Amazon Expedition annually to conduct research in the jungle.† He also leads safaris to Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, and Madagascar.† Mr. Blazis is instrumental, working as part of a joint Harvard University/Oxford University program tracking the spread of certain parasites, including Lyme disease, through bird migration. He sets up nets in the canopy, catches birds and tests them for certain parasites.† Conducting medical research, Mr. Blazis has collaborated with Dr. Peter Rand at the Maine Medical Center, Dr. Richard Pollack at the Harvard Medical School of Public Health, and Dr. Stephen Rich at Tufts University of Veterinary Medicine. †
Mr. Blazis resides in Grafton with his wife Helen and they have two children.
Helen Blazis holds a Master's degree in Foreign Languages from Assumption College, degrees from Anna Maria College, and was a Spanish Teacher at Oxford High School, retiring in the spring of 2009.† Her command of the Spanish language comes in very handy on her expeditions to the Amazon.† She is also fluent in French and Polish. To watch Helen for two minutes is to be in awe of this woman.† Mrs. Blazis knows just about everything there is to know about birds and then some.† Every Saturday and Sunday during migration, if Mrs. Blazis is not standing at the table sharing her knowledge about the captive bird in her hand, she is trudging through the swamp or in the wooded areas removing captive birds from the nets, placing them in bags and bringing them back to the banding station.† Helenís knowledge of wild flowers, fauna, mushrooms, and wildlife, just fascinates the children (along with the adult volunteers).† Her patience is unending, her sincerity genuine, and her willingness to share her love of nature admirable.†
Mrs. Blazis is also an accomplished
film producer, director, and videographer. Helen Blazis, producer and host
of ďBlazis Safaris,Ē received first place in the individual achievement cable
television program host/reporter category at the 2007 NECTA Awards.
She will be filming a documentary on elephants in Africa this summer. We
are all looking forward to viewing her project when completed.
Mrs. Blazis resides in Grafton with her husband Mark and they have two children.††††
Dr. Weagle, affectionately known as Doc by the entire town, was a prior Dentist in Auburn with his own practice until 1999. He graduated from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1966, and graduated from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry in 1970.† Dr. Weagle is Chairman of the Auburn Board of Water Commissioners, a position he has maintained for the past thirteen years. Dr. Weagle accepted the Superintendents post for the Auburn Water District in April 1999.† Doc is the backbone of the Auburn Bird Banding Program.† He was the creator of this operation and has been keeping the records and processing birds for longer than he wants to admit.† Dr. Weagle enjoys hunting and fishing and is a member of the Auburn Sportsman's Club.
Doc, who resides in Auburn, is married to Susan Weagle and has two daughters, Michelle and Valerie.
Keith MacAdams†† ††† Director, Senior Assistant Bander and Sub-Permittee
Mr. MacAdams grew up in the town of Auburn and was a lifelong resident until a few years ago. Keith has a degree from Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Mr. MacAdams is responsible for the removing of captive birds from the nets, identifying them, placing them in cloth bags and delivering them to the banding station.† This requires that Keith be at the Auburn Sportsmanís Club at 5:00 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday during migration seasons to open the nets.† Keith also has the added responsibility of maintaining the nets, maintaining the access lanes and areas around the nets, and guiding other volunteers through the swampy and wooded areas, all the while maintaining his sense of humor.†
Keith resides in Auburn with his wife Kim and son Garrett.
Kim MacAdams†††††† Assistant Clerk
Responsible for the tracking and organization of the birds is Kim MacAdams.† Researchers returning from the field with birds stop and hand Kim little pieces of paper that Kim needs to decipher.† The researcher notes the bird bag number, the species, and net number.† Mrs. MacAdams sorts and records this information and determines the order in which the birds will be processed.† She also keeps totals of the birds processed during the day.† Kim also sews and donates the bird bags used in this operation and makes wonderful pumpkin and zucchini bread, much to the delight of all the volunteers.
Tom received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from Cleveland State University (longer ago than he is willing to admit). Tom has banded birds with the Mark and Helen Blazis in Massachusetts, the Darien in Panama and Amazonian Ecuador. At the banding station, Tom was responsible for removing captive birds from the nets, identifying them, placing them in cloth bags and delivering them to the station. Tom was a molecular biologist for Bayer Pharmaceuticals. Tom's devotion to science and nature was obvious to all at the station. (especially considering the long trek before dawn that Tom and Stephanie make each weekend to Auburn, when they could be sleeping in) He loved to share the his knowledge of birds with the students of Auburn and it was wonderful to see all the students looking up to Tom.
Tom unfortunately passed away February 28, 2006. He will be missed tremendously by the team. Tom is survived by his wife Stephanie, their dogs, Tucker and Kestrel and their two horses, Flash and Disty, who live in Wallingford.
Stephanie Donaldson Senior Assistant Bander and Sub-Permittee
Stephanie received her Bachelors of Science in Zoology from the University of Maine at Orono. Stephanie has banded birds with the Mark and Helen Blazis in Massachusetts, the Darien in Panama and Amazonian Ecuador. At the banding station, Stephanie is responsible for removing captive birds from the nets, identifying them, placing them in cloth bags and delivering them to the station. Stephanie has made hundreds of bird bags. Stephanie is the chief of net repairs. Stephanie is a biologist in the department Laboratory Medicine at the Yale University Medical School. Stephanie has always been a nature buff, even as a little girl summering on a small island off the coast of Maine, Stephanie would spend all her free time playing and exploring in the woods. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she is a real asset to the team.
Stephanie lives in Wallingford, CT with her dogs, Tucker and Kestrel, and her two horses, Flash and Disty.
John J. White (J.J.) Associate & Sub-Permittee
Retired Massachusetts State Police Captain, John J. White, is a very busy man.† After many years of dedicated service on the force, J.J. now serves as a consultant for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, compiling and analyzing crash investigation statistics.† He is also a licensed private investigator in the state of Massachusetts.† J.J. is an active member of the Auburn Sportsmanís Club and serves on its Board of Directors.† Mr. White has been monitoring the Bluebird Box Program, which was started by the Auburn Sportsmanís Club eight years ago.† This program has grown from five boxes to well over forty-five.† J.J. is well versed in all issues threatening the survival and recovery of Bluebirds in New England.† The students are fascinated by J.J.ís stories of brood parasites and horrified by stories of House Sparrows trying to push Bluebirds, along with other native birds, out of existence.† Mr. White also monitors a trail of thirty-one Bluebird Boxes in Berkshire County.† This Bluebird Trail runs through the towns of Windsor, Peru and Dalton.† Very busy man.
J.J. resides in Auburn with his wife Deanna, a retired schoolteacher from the Auburn School System.†††††
Myrt is a Human Resource Rep with Allegro MicroSystems, Inc. and has worked there for over 40 years.† Allegro MicroSystems donated the first laptop to the Bird Banding Research Station, which has made record keeping a lot easier.† Myrt is responsible for creating and updating this website and she helps with the entering of data into the Bandit program .
Myrt resides in Worcester with her bird-banding daughter Mattie.
Lois Kolofsky was born and raised on Grafton Hill in Worcester. She received a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in elementary education from Worcester State College, and a Master's degree in special education from Fitchburg State College. She has worked in the Worcester and Sutton school systems, and is currently a Wilson Language instructor. Always a lover of nature and the outdoors, she has learned a great deal working with the bird banding team both here and in the Amazon. She resides in Sutton with her husband, Bob. They have four grown children.
Born and raised in Auburn, Gary Hetel is the self proclaimed "Best Looking Guy" on the bird banding team. Except for a short and very eventful stint in Colorado, Gary has lived in Auburn his whole life. He married his childhood sweetheart, settled down and raised a family. His daughter Jillian is responsible for Gary's getting sucked into bird banding. (Just as Garrett was responsible for Kim and Keith, and Mattie, responsible for Myrt getting sucked in!) Gary is a great addition to the team. He is responsible for removing birds from the net, identifying them, bagging them and returning them to the station. Gary also takes wonderful photos which can be seen through a link on the main page.
Gary lives in Auburn with his wife and two daughters.
Brian Sheridan has been involved in the Bird Banding Research Program for 9 years. He has traveled to the Amazon twice and would like to go again. Brian has become very adept at processing birds and very quick to identify even the most difficult species. Brian is a graduate of Auburn High School and Anna Maria College. He received his sub-permit in 2006. He also plays a mean trombone and has an extensive rubber duck collection. They are visible in his vehicle, but one can only guess whether or not those ducks ever get to float in the Sheridan's bath tub.
Brian lives in Auburn with his parents, Jim and Pauline Sheridan and brother David, but would rather spend time with his girlfriend, Erin.
David has been part of the bird banding team for longer than he'd like to admit. He has graduated from Auburn High School and attends Anna Maria College and is currently a sophomore. David is following in his brother Brian's footsteps but he is a lot faster. David traveled to the Amazon and enjoyed it immensely. David loves nature and animals and is a dedicated member of the team. He also can run circles around anyone on the team. Only Mary Sharkey might be able to keep up with him. He is also on the track team at Anna Maria and he is incredible on the saxophone.
David lives in Auburn with his parents, Jim and Pauline Sheridan and brother Brian.
Mary grew up in Uxbridge and first banded birds there over 30 years ago. We have been very lucky to have Mary on our team as she is a very valuable contributing member. She has stepped up and volunteered to help with the tedious data entry work that everyone dreads. Along with Gary Hetel and sometimes Marcia Reich and Mark Blazis, Mary has been banding on weekdays during migration, which contributes greatly to the record numbers of birds banded in 2006 and 2007. Mary is a kind, soft-spoken, generous woman, and the rest of the team is thrilled that Mary has joined them in their research. She is also a very gifted net repairer. Along with her sister Joan, Mary has saved the team quite a few dollars repairing holes in old nets. She has, however, had problems with the birds in her backyard thinking she had set the net up for them. Mary has traveled to Ecuador once and will be going again in 2008. She is an Irish citizen and holds dual citizenship.
Mary resides in Thompson, Connecticut, with her husband, Bernie. They have a son Sam, who lives in California. Mary and Bernie have their own woodworking business and they manufacture radius millwork, also know as curved mouldings. (Click Here for their website )
Joan Sharkey grew up in Uxbridge, attended college in Springfield to train as a Surgical Technician. As a young adult she moved to the Bay Area in California but returned to Uxbridge in the mid-eighties and has since been living in her mother's childhood home. She is currently single and plans to stay that way. Both Joan and her sister Mary are dual citizens of the US and Ireland and Joan hopes to retire in the west of Ireland. Pack your bags, she hopes to have room for guests!
In addition to birds, Joan likes to sew, make crafts, bake (but not as well as Myrt!), and of course travel. (You will notice by her baking comment, she's also a wise guy!) Joan also has a great sense of humor and is always smiling. Her perpetual good mood is infectious and she makes everyone on the team feel a little better about being up so early in the morning. She and her sister Mary have also done a wonderful job on net repair, one of those jobs everyone would prefer didn't exist.
Joan currently lives one mile from her workplace where she is the Assistant to the Administrator of a small family health center. A wonderful thing about the location is it's on the Blackstone River Canal walkway so Joan can often walk to work, affording her good wildlife and bird watching opportunities. Joan also lives right on the banks of the Mumford River and this year spotted a Bald Eagle from her back porch.
She is a real novice in the banding game but is enthusiastic and hopes to improve her skills in the future. The team is very grateful that Joan has volunteered. She's a great addition to our team.
A graduate from Auburn High, and UMASS Amherst, Mattie loves processing and photographing birds. Her pictures can be seen on the main page of this website. Mattie traveled to the Amazon in 2003 and plans on returning soon. Mattie loves to travel, and really enjoys going on cruises. Mattie received her sub-permit in 2006. She spent a summer on the sand flats in Montague doing research on prairie warblers and brown thrashers, and a fall migration on Presque Isle in Erie, PA.. She will be working again at Audubon Sharon in Sharon Connecticut in a MAPS program and spent the spring migration banding at Manomet..
When not at a banding site, Mattie stays in Worcester with her mother, Myrt and more importantly her cats, Adam and Huxley.
When Larry puts down his dental tools, he sometimes uses small tweezers to help remove the fine strands of the mist nets from birdsí feet. He is also adept at using a tick remover to remove the little parasites that like to attach near a birdís eye. These ticks are being sent to Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine for research on Lyme Disease. Larry received his sub-permit in 2009. Larry has also been know to perform a root canal on a porcupine. Larry helps out with all phases of banding, but most importantly, waking his daughter Sarah before sunrise so they can get to open the nets.
Marcy Reich was tireless fund raiser, not only for the Auburn Birdbanding Station but for other organizations lucky enough to have her as a benefactor such as The Pakachoag School of Music and The Master Singers. Marcy was responsible for obtaining the funding for the raptor program and mist nets through her grant writing abilities. She had also purchased many nets with funds raised by her can collecting. Marcy earned her Master's degree in Library Science and worked for many years as a librarian. Marcy lived in Auburn with her husband Dr. Larry, daughter Sarah, and two sons, Dan and Nate, and we all miss her very much..
Jill is a graduate of Auburn High School. Jillian received her sub-permit in March of 2005. She has been assisting Mr. Blazis for 6 years, including being the first student to do bird research with him on a week long trip to Ecuador. She was with him on a world first discovery of the Gray-cheeked Thrush and the hunting habits of the Zigzag Heron. Jill is adept in all phases of birdbanding, including finding and setting up her own net lane with Sarah Reich. Jill and Sarah also helped teach Mr. Blazis' seventh grade birdbanding field trips to the Auburn Sportsmanísí Club during spring and fall migrations.
She has been to the Amazon three times and has spent the summers of 2005 & 2006 working in South America at an ecological resort.
p.s. ďI will always be taller and older than Sarah Reich.Ē