Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bird Banding at Presque Isle SP IBA

Sadly, my fall birding ID class with Jerry McWilliams is completed. Happily, that afforded me the opportunity to help out Desiree and her assistant, Erica, with bird banding this past Saturday. It was a slow but steady banding day as we netted and processed white-throated sparrows, hermit thrushes, a couple of downy woodpeckers, and a winter wren. Desiree and Erica have been banding birds 6 days a week at the park, weather permitting, alternating between Niagara Boat Launch (T-Th-Sa) and Fry's Landing (M-W-F) starting at daybreak and running through to around 2:00 pm.

Erica extracts a Hermit Thrush from one of the 13 mist nets set up behind Niagara Boat Launch.

Erica places a band on a white-throated sparrow...and then hands it off to Desiree for weighing and measuring.

I was a little rusty when starting out but Desiree is a generous and patient teacher who showed me a little bit more about extracting the birds from the net as well as processing the birds. Sarah, Desiree and Erica have the processing down to, well, a science.

My first extractee this fall, a little downy that was a recapture from September.

Once a bird is captured and the species determined it is banded with an appropriately sized numbered band, aged, sexed, wing measurements are taken and fat status is determined. Then, of course, the bird is set free. Sarah, the lead bander, Desiree and Erica are also collecting ticks from the captured birds. The ticks collected will be used in a research study being conducted by Yale University. The entire process is done as quickly and efficiently as possible as to disturb the birds as little as possible. All of the information gathered is written down in a log book for purposes of later comparison as well as for uploading to a larger data base.

If you've never seen a birds ear before, you can't say that anymore!Erica delicately tweezes a tick from this hermit thrush.Each specimen vial contains ticks from one bird.

Ron Leberman, the Godfather of bird banding at PISP, looks on at the processing.

Ron and his family banded birds for 49 years at PISP. Ron tells wonderful stories about the great numbers of birds that used to frequent the park, including one ten day stretch in which they netted 650 birds!

A frequent visitor and helper at the banding station , Dave, was reluctant to extract a bird from the net, but with Desiree's not-so-subtle persuasion he finally caved and Desiree showed him how it's done!


Banding will continue through the end of October for the fall migration and resume in mid-April 2009 for spring migration. If you live in the area and are interested in observing or volunteering, come on down to the sites. It's definitely a wonderful and rewarding learning experience.


Leedra said...

This post is awesome. Really love it, seeing them so close. Wish I had been there.

NCmountainwoman said...

Amazing photographs of what must have been a wonderful time. I especially love the expression on Dave's face when he untangles the bird. Sheer delight. And Desiree looks on proudly. Wonderful post.

Mary said...

Oh, your photo sequence is fantastic! Banding is something I'm looking forward to next spring.

Your white-throated sparrows are sweet. I look forward to seeing them again :o)

Toni said...

I wonder why this didn't come to my email box. If this happens again I'll have to sign up again.
yea love the photos. I wanted to go Saturday but had to get new tires yuck.. any ways will have to go this saturday if they are banding.

Erika Dittmar said...

I love your website and your pictures of our bird banding! Post as many as you want!


MicheleRF said...

Leedra-Well, stop on by if you're ever in the area. Maybe there are IBAs in your neck of the woods doing banding. It is an excellent learning opportunity.
Carolyn-It is a wonderful time. Thanks!
Mary-Thanks, there are sure to be lots more in the nets in the coming weeks!
Toni-I may be at the banding station Saturday. Looks like great weather.
Erika-So sorry I misspelled your name. Glad you like the pics and post.

Bird Girl said...

A very interesting post! Indeed I have never seen bird ears - thanks for the experience! If you had a class with Jerry McWilliams...I can see why you are disappointed that your class is ending. Jerry led a tour group that I was part of and I enjoyed it much!

Kathleen said...

Wonderful! Your lovely photos tell a captivating story.

It is also pretty cool to see a bird's ear!

Erica said...

Hey there. I love your blog!

I was wondering if I could use the photo of you removing ticks from the thrush as part of an educational talk I'm giving on Lyme borreliosis in wildlife. I would credit you, of course, and only use the photo in a powerpoint presentation, nowhere else.

Thanks for posting all of these wonderful photos and descriptions!

MicheleRF said...

That would be fine, Erica.