June 15, 2012

Adventures in Bird Banding


This morning I had the pleasure of joining Tait Johansson and the Bedford Audubon Society for bird banding at their study plot near Katonah, NY. The study is a part of the continent-wide MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program. This entails placing a small metal band around the leg of each bird that is caught, and recording its weight, sex, condition, age, and measurements.  The information is used to find out how many birds return each year to breeding grounds, and will allow biologists to see if specific bird populations are declining and, if so, what the causes may be.

Since I was coming from Brooklyn, I had to be up at 3:15AM (ouch!), and by the time we reached the study plot, it was already light out.

We set about opening the ten mist nets (that look like huge, almost-invisible badminton nets), and then every hour we would check them for birds that would fly into them and harmlessly get caught in the netting.  I had the opportunity to untangle some of the birds out of the nets, which was way more challenging than I thought it would be, but it was amazing to be able to handle them.  

I got to help free this adorable juvenile Tufted Titmouse. Of all the bird species we dealt with, these were among the smallest, but by far the noisiest and feistiest. I now know what it feels like to be repeatedly pecked at and bit by a bird! Those tiny beaks have quite a grip.

Tait wrangles a Common Yellowthroat, a tiny warbler that breeds in the area.

Kristen bands an Ovenbird...


...and then shows off its pretty crown for the camera.

A Wood Thrush gets his wing measured.

I was taught how to properly handle and hold the birds.  

My new Wood Thrush buddy sporting his new bracelet.  Doesn't he look pleased?

Other birds species banded or recaptured:  Veery, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Gray Catbird.

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