Bird Banding – An Experience to Remember

Ah, the desire to see birds up close and personal.  If you have never been to a bird banding, if you ever get a chance to see one, don’t walk, but run (quietly).  It is an awesome chance to see these beautiful birds like you have never seen them before.  The Concho Valley Birdbanders visit various bird areas, and people are most welcome to visit and observe.  Visit their link above to read more about them and their goals to report on the movement and behavior of birds around the state of Texas.

Upon arriving, they erect mist nets; very fine nets that are strung across poles in areas where birds are know to fly.  The birds fly into the nets, are then captured by hand and taken to the area where the banding is actually done.  The birds are unharmed, but some do enjoy scolding the banders as they go about their business.  It might be added that the mist nets are nearly invisible.  The material is so fine that I have walked right into a net before I realized it; like walking into a spider web.

Bander Charles Floyd running the nets.

White-eyed Vireo in mist net.

The banders record the date of capture, sex, age, species, health condition, and any other pertinent data.  They then attach a very tiny, light, metallic band with a number corresponding to such report, around the leg, then released.  Before such release,they usually hold the birds in their fingers for a minute or two, to give an opportunity for any photographers to get close-ups.

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Wilson’s Warbler

Needless to say, it is a very educational experience.  An addendum:  I do not, for my personal albums or other professional use, ever photograph birds that are captured, set up, in zoos, or baited.  These photos were taken strictly for an article about this banding group.  This banding was done at the Hummer House Nature Retreat, in Christoval, Texas, on April 23, 2011.  Click on any of the images to see enlargements.

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Bird Banding is for the birds

Last Saturday morning Ann and I were invited to observe the banding of birds at Dan Brown’s Hummer House, near Christoval, Texas.  When we arrived about 8:00 AM the mist nets were up and the bird snaring was under way.  The banding was done by Concho Valley Bird Banding, a licensed group led by Charles Floyd.  For those who are uninformed about bird banding, these licensed banders catch birds, document the specie, record age, etc, then attach tiny metal bands to the leg.  This band has information on it so the bird can be traced.

White-eyed Vireo in mist net

The birds are not endangered in any way.  The mist net is so called because it is so fine that you can walk into it without realizing it is there.  The banders locate the nets in locations where there is the most bird activity.  They wait an hour or so, then they “run” the nets, picking off the tiny birds, which they deposit in little pouches hanging from their jackets or belts.  They then return to their work area, which is a table set up nearby.  They examine the birds, record the pertinent data and attache the bands.  After photographing them, they are released.

Bander Charles Floyd running the nets

It is a great opportunity to get close-up photographs of the different species.  I have included here some of my images from there.

Painted Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Wilson's Warbler

Pine Siskin

I hope you have enjoyed this narrative and the images.  Click on any photo to see enlargements.