Banding Birds

I remember clearly the first time, as a photographer, I spotted a band on a bird.  It was at Rocky Mountain National Park. Out in the middle of seemingly 'nowhere' was a beatiful black and white bird with a band on its leg.  I wondered, "how does that happen?"  When a group of four photographers, all friends, offered to share their photos of a bird banding activity at the Hassayampa River Preserve, I jumped at the chance to share them with you.  I could not attend but have asked for explanations of what was going on.

This is a fledging verdin who, hopefully, will be caught and studied over its lifetime.  Some birds at the Preserve are known to be at least six years old.

The banding starts by putting up a net.

Birds flying into the net are tangled up just enough to stop their flight but not hurt them.

The trapped birds are carefully removed by trained volunteers and place into bags to be transported to a table where they are examined and, if not already banded, they are banded.

These are two ways the birds can be held to control them, but not hurt them.  Surely there is some stress to them, but the whole process is quick and gentle.

The small bands come in various sizes.  Here shown on a wire loop much like a big safety pin

If the bird is already banded its information is recorded.  This data provides some insight into the bird population of the area.

New captures are carefully banded.

Measurements of the wing span are taken.

Birds that are tending a nest develop a brood patch of missing feathers.  A volunteer blows a puff of air to spread the bird's feathers to reveal if there is a brood patch.

Birds are carefully placed, head down, into a small container and then weighed.

Time spent heads down is real short!

A mug shot of each bird is taken before they are released.

Some birds become quite calm following their evaluation and may spend several seconds in the palm of a hand.

"I am smiling for the camera."

"Would you like some feedback on my experience?"

If a bird is placed on its back it will sit quietly.  To release it is gently turned over onto the other hand.  After just second it will fly away.

Banding occurs throughout the summer at the Hassayampa River Preserve.  Photographers are welcome to watch.  Their schedule is posted on their Facebook site.