Bird Banding in the Rocky River Reservation
Yesterday, I decided to go to a bird program at the Rocky River Reservation. A couple of certified banders were capturing birds to track their migration and longevity. It was pretty interesting.
Most of the birds that were caught were smaller song birds. They caught quite a few gold finches, song sparrows, hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, dark eyed juncos, black capped chickadees, and pictured above, a carolina wren. After ensnaring the birds in a net, volunteers would untangle them, and place them in brown paper lunch bags. Putting the birds in the bag also helped to keep them calm, similar to putting a blanket over a bird cage. The woodpeckers were double bagged because they are able to tear through a single one. They also jumped around in their bags, which made the bags jump around on the table.
The banders would then carefully remove the birds from the bag. Bird bones are fragile, especially their legs. If they are handled roughly, their legs can easily snap. They would then hold the birds by placing their index and middle fingers around their neck. Holding a bird like that highlights how fluffy some bird's feathers are. A bird whose neck appears to be an inch wide is probably less than a 1/4". The banders would then measure wing and tail feather length, and finally, the bird's weight. If the birds hand't been caputered in the past, the banders would place a small aluminun band around the bird's leg. If they were banded in the past, the banders would record the band's number.
After the data was finished being captured, a couple of young volunteers got the birds out of the bags and placed them in participants hands so the birds could fly away. Most of the time, the birds would fly away as soon as the volunteers let go. A couple were in sort of a daze, and would sit on your hand for a few seconds until they got their wits about them and escaped.
Overall, I would recommend checking out the bird programs the metroparks have to offer. It was neat being able to see some wild birds up close and to learn more about how scientists and volunteers track their population and migration.