This last Saturday we had Allen Chartier out for another session of bird banding. The program had originally been planned for Valentine’s Day, but it was just too cold. This Saturday it looked like it would be too cold again. Due to stress on the birds, Allen does not like to band when it is less than 10*F outside, and 20*F is his preference. It was -11*F when we were setting up, but luckily this time of year the sun has a good bit of warmth to it, and it was above 10*F by 10:30…safe enough.
Usually, Allen strings up a couple mist nets, as well as setting up a cage trap or two. Again, because of the cold and the extra stress the mist net causes for captured birds, he chose to just use the cage traps.
The program began with a presentation about why researchers capture and band birds – a very nice overview, which answered a lot of questions people had. Then we (he) got down to the business of catching and banding the birds.
Once a bird was in the trap, Allen would go out and retrieve it, placing it gently in a small cloth bag.
Back inside, a band is placed on the bird’s leg and quick measurements are made: tail and wing lengths, a check for fat deposits, a quick estimate of age,
Then Allen brings the bird around so everyone can see it up close.
Everyone’s favorite part is getting to let the birds go. We caught seven downy woodpeckers this day, and three children who were there, plus a couple adults, got to release the birds back outside.