Beauty, resilience, order, dedication, focus, that was a few of the things I witnessed during my first experience with bird banding using mist nets at the Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge in Knoxville, Tennessee.
This work is not easy. And many things about it impressed me. The birds of course were beautiful, not happy mind you, but handled with care and efficiency. To see them in hand, the details of their faces, even the yellow gape at the corner of a juvenile's mouth or the color of an Indigo bunting's feet pads, this is detailed beauty otherwise seen only in photography.
Indigo Bunting But this intimate view of the birds is only a fringe benefit of what is otherwise meticulous work conducted by dedicated members of the Tennessee Ornithological Society who have gone through special training and obtained certifications and special Federal permits to do this work. In the end the data collected contributes to a body of information that helps us both monitor our wild bird populations and develop strategies for conservation action. Juvenile female Yellow-breasted Chat. Notice the yellow gape in the corner of her bill.
Layed out on the table where birds were being examined and banded were scientific handbooks and charts specifying the detailed clues for aging and sexing each bird species, as well as, the appropriate band size for their legs, often different for male and female. Once captured, the birds are held in cloth bags that help to calm them while they wait their turn. Two people examine birds while two more team members record data. And along with these four people the rest of the team, like clock-work, checks the twelve nets at designated times to collect new captures.
Next post: How the birds are aged and sexed and where the data goes.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.