Wednesday, June 9, 2010

M.A.P.S. Opening the Nets

I had the remarkable opportunity to participate in a bird banding last week, thanks to my daughter and her environmental education professor, Dr. Lisa Zinn, whom I have consulted in earlier posts on questions about backyard birding. Dr. Zinn organizes bird bandings for MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survival).

I was honored by the invitation and had no idea what to expect of a bird banding. Will describe it in detail, assuming anyone interested enough to be reading this may be as curious as I was about the details of banding birds. It will take several entries to describe.

Opening the Nets:

Our day began at 4:30a in order to arrive at the banding station in time for the 6:00a spreading of the nets. The only recommended attire was water proof boots, which I did not have, but after the first 30 minutes, wished to.

By the experts' casual references to opening the nets, I'm sure they would be surprised at my intense wondering about what exactly that meant. What it meant was untwisting a large black rectangular-shaped net and stretching it vertically between two 8 ft tall poles, about ten yards apart. When the net was fully untwisted, spread, and hooked up, it made an invisible wall between the poles, 8 feet high by ten yards wide. The nylon strings of the net were as fine as sewing thread but unbreakable, in a grid of half-inch squares. The net itself was three layers thick, the top of each layer lower than the one behind it so that no matter where a bird flew into the net it would fall down into a pocket made by the next lower layer, and thus would be held captive in the net without getting hurt.

Ten such nets were set up at strategic locations around the marsh and grasslands of this nature preserve in northern Indiana. Once all ten nets were spread we sat down at the banding station with a good cup of coffee to wait. In a half-hour, and every half-hour throughout the day, we would check the nets for captured birds. That's enough for one day's entry. More tomorrow. dkm


hannahmiller said...

hi ma - i forgot to give you banding photos! i'll send them to you.

hannahmiller said...

hi ma - i forgot to give you banding photos! i'll send them to you.

dkm said...

Thank you! I want them! watch for more reports