During the banding demo that we attended on Saturday morning we saw at least 15 different individual birds, most of whom were migratory species, and quite a few of which were life birds for me! In this post, I'm going to concentrate on the banding process itself and give you an idea of what it entails. This was my first ever banding experience, so it was interesting to observe that it's not just a matter of snapping a little band on the bird's leg.
By the way, I would just like to clarify that I did not handle any of these birds personally. All birds were banded and handled by the trained staff and volunteers of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. This was all part of a public banding demonstration.
First you have to catch the bird. Mist nets that are 40 feet long and 8 feet high are stretched between 2 poles to catch the birds. The nets are virtually invisible to the birds, and when they fly into the net, they fall into a pocket (the several horizontal rows visible in the photo on the left give you an idea where the pockets are), where they will then be pulled out and transferred to a draw-string bag for safe-keeping until it is time to be banded.
Tomorrow we will look in detail at some of the other birds that were banded at the demo, and examine their field marks (in non-breeding plumage at that!). Stay tuned.
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