We had an absolutely fantastic morning for our bird handling event in Ames on May 14, 2016, and 14 young birders and parents were excited to learn about bird handling and banding and about the possibility of holding a bird!
We started the morning learning about the techniques and importance of bird handling and banding from our host and volunteer leader Stephen Dinsmore. Dr. Dinsmore shared with us the use of mistnets, a large net made of fine mesh used to capture songbirds (the method we were using to capture birds during our event). He also taught us how to safely hold songbirds as well as take various measurements such as the length of their beak, their legs, and wing cord, demonstrating these techniques on a recently captured Common Grackle. Lastly, the young birders discussed with Dr. Dinsmore reasons why we want to capture and band songbirds and what we can learn from the information, such as tracking migration and other movements, estimating bird survival, and many others. Anxious to see if any birds were in the net, we headed towards the backyard.
Dr. Dinsmore had two long mistnets set up around his bird feeders in his backyard. We immediately noticed small songbirds moving about in the net and we quickly worked to extract the birds. Dr. Dinsmore demonstrated to young birders how to quickly and safely remove the birds, removing the feet first, then the wings and the head. In the nets were two Gray Catbirds, a pair of American Goldfinches, a young male Baltimore Oriole, and a stunning male Magnolia Warbler. Young birders were able to assist with removing birds from the net and conducted measurements on the birds once back in the garage. We were excited to hold the birds and view them up close, and safely released them once finished. A few more checks of the nets yielded three more Common Grackles and a Blue Jay. It was an exciting day for everyone!
We’re extremely grateful to Stephen Dinsmore for hosting and for sharing his knowledge and experience with bird handling! You can view more photos from our trip here.