History of PARC
History of Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC)
Established in 1956
Powdermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station, is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC) is the bird banding and avian
research facility at the museum’s research station.
Established in 1956, the station owes its existence to the vision and
leadership of then museum director, Dr. M. Graham Netting.
Located in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania, the nature
reserve today covers nearly 2,200 acres and features an extensive, mature
second growth forest with some early and late successional old fields. Other
characteristics include a variety of streams along with a few small ponds
In 1961, Robert C. Leberman established the landbird banding program at
Powdermill, what would become PARC. Robert semi-retired in 2004 after
43 years as the program’s Senior Bird Bander. Bob Mulvihill first joined the program in
1978 as a volunteer while in college. Hired full-time in 1983, Bob took
over as Bander-in-Charge in 2004. Subsequent Banders-in-charge include
Adrienne Leppold, Molly McDermott, and Andrew Vitz. The program is currently
under the direction of Luke DeGroote.
PARC’s bird banding program may be the longest running, year-round,
professional bird banding operation in the country. In the summer of
2001, we recorded our 500,000th bird (including original bandings plus
The Growth of Research
Over the years, PARC has made significant strides in expanding its
research capabilities, capitalizing on the experience and expertise of its
world renowned bird banding program.
Birds studied through our banding program may also be utilized for
bioacoustical, window avoidance, telemetry studies and more, all while
handling these species in a gentle and humane manner. In this way PARC
contributes both to our knowledge of migrating species and to their enhanced
survival as well. Visit our PARC
Research page for more information.
With its website revision in 2010, PARC also introduced the use of a
dynamic computer database of bird banding records. At the banding
station, data from bird captures is entered directly into the database. This
data is then automatically processed and displayed in summary form on this
website at the close of each banding day.
Visit our Banding Summaries page to
learn more. Researchers interested in fuller access to banding data
should Contact PARC for more information.
Powdermill Nature Reserve
Located in Rector, Westmoreland County Powdermill was established in 1956
and is Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station and
nature education center. Powdermill sustains and protects a variety of
natural habitats where researchers and educators study ecological processes.
It is also home to one of the longest continually running avian research
stations in the United States. Visitors of all ages come to gain a greater
knowledge about the natural world through innovative and exciting education
programs and exhibitions.
For visiting hours and directions to Powdermill Nature Reserve
and PARC, please visit the Powdermill Web site at