The Magical Adventures of Bird Banding with Lily
Okay so I lack experience with a lot of things bird related and am learning so much from this experience. As one of my intern duties, I was sent out to go bird banding with Lily and some other amazing people. Lily is my office mate and the Celebra Las Aves Coordinator at EFTA Headquarters. There is actually a picture of her in my previous blog.
It was hot a morning when I met up with the banders at the station and I must say that I feel that this internship has negatively impacted my endurance. Unlike the other interns in the program, I don’t go out in the field all that much and feel that I am out of shape from being in the office all day. My legs have like no muscle anymore. But nothing that a workout cant fix up real quick! Now before I go any further, I would like to let you all know how I was paranoid. Of TICKS!!! So Lily has come into the office from the field with a tick on her head, and it does not help that I just saw a video on FB about a girl who was paralyzed from a tick! Paranoia level at crimson red! So I got a thermal suit and taped any entry possible, I taped my sleeves around my wrists and my pants just above my ankles. I learned all the medical procedures and everything needed to know for tick extractions.
The station wasn’t quite what I expected. But it was cool, I got to learn the process of how the nets were set up and how the birds are processed. I think we had 8 nets in total, on the first net round we went on. We had a little bird caught up on the top trammel of the net. Unfortunately the wind hand blown and the net was tangled on a tree branch above making it a little difficult to get the bird down. Luckily I was tall enough to safely disentangled the branch from the net and we were finally able to get the bird out of the net and into a bag. Yes I know, it is odd to imagine a bird in a bag, but the bag is breathable and we are extremely delicate when we put it in. We caught a few birds, and I was able to see some beautiful birds and I was excited about it!
I was able to see how these birds were banded. First they alert the recorder that they are getting a bag with a bird in it and from which net it came from. The first they did was determine the band that goes on the bird. They do this by looking at a sheet that matches bird species to bird band sizes or they measure the leg using a leg gauge. There are many sizes and codes and if I remember correctly, the smallest band has a code of 0A and they get bigger and bigger from there. They tell the recorder the code of the band (the full number) and then proceed to put it on.After that they measure the bird’s wing and tail. I didn’t know how they did it but once I saw it was so obvious.After that they measure the bird’s wing and tail, and look for fat and feather molts. The two final steps are to measure its weight and then set the little one free to live its life.
Fun fact did you know that if you are in possession of a bird feather that that’s illegal? Now you could have just found it on a hike or something but to the authorities you could have just killed the bird and taken some feathers, and since you can’t prove that you didn’t harm or killed a bird for its feather you can be fined. This law was created to protect migratory birds. So the next time you see a feather, you can go right ahead, pick it up inspect the beautiful thing, but then set it back down where you found it.
I did get to return to the station once more, on the closing day, and there wasn’t much out there. We did catch one bird while I was there though! I was given the great honor to release the little one once it was banded and processed. Nelda, a bird at the station, placed the bird on my hand, he (we were able to determine that it was a male!) was so still but I could feel the pulse of his heart. For a second I thought I did have a heart in my hand. The bird wasn’t moving much so we blew on him lightly. I got some help from Nelda and poof! Like magic, he zoomed out so fast I didn’t even feel its feet touch my hand it was so fast. That was pretty cool and a moment I wont forget. Next on the list is seeing a Caracara!