Every bird has a social security number… or at least that’s what every bird bander’s perfect world is like.
This week I got to see bird banding for the first time and I must say it’s a pretty cool setup.
Many tend to be hesitant when it comes to trapping animals in any capacity, however animal banding allows for the observation and protection of many animal species.
The concept is simple. Give an animal a distinctive number. Put a band on the animal that has its distinctive number. The next time the animal is seen, be it by the same person who gave it its band or a different person, the animal can be identified by its number. Every time the animal is seen, information can be compiled regarding its physical maturity, behavior, migration patterns, and more.
All this information can be used to ensure that the species is doing well or to see if there are problems.
As with all types of animal banding, bird banding requires special training and certification. The actual process of bird banding entails following a very strict and specific protocol, all the way from setting up the nets to releasing the birds after banding.
Below is a comprehensive summary of steps when it comes to bird banding.
Set up the nets. The nets are made of a very fine material that is nearly invisible to the eye. Best days to set up the nets are when the weather is cloudy with no wind – those are the conditions that will make the nets most difficult to see.
After waiting some time for birds to fly into the net, the next step is to get the birds out of the net. This is perhaps the most tedious of the entire process – it takes experience and diligence to take the birds out of the net without harming them or causing them discomfort.
The birds are put into a sack to minimize any stimulus – in our case we used brown paper bags.
The birds are then brought back to the banding station where they are banded and data is collected.
The bird is held in the “bird bander’s grip” when it is being banded and data is being collected. Some information collected includes age, sex, species, wing length, weight, and fat.
Sometimes a bird is a “recapture” so already has a band on it. In that case the bird keeps the band it already has and information is added to the data previously collected.
Another popular technique is to hold the bird in the “photographer’s grip” in order to get a full profile view of the bird.
Release the bird. The entire process takes maybe 10 – 15 minutes. The point is to get the birds and release them as quickly as possible.
Check out my Instagram for more photography posts: Hailey Hoyat (@captain_hails)