Monday, August 30, 2010

Shorebird Banding

To avoid picture overload in the cannon netting post, I’ve decided to put a bunch of pictures of banding godwits and Whimbrels in a separate post. Enjoy!

A series of godwit flags prior to putting them out on birds. We used up all of these flags in a single catch, and then some. Prior to each catch, we always made sure we had at least 200 flags ready, just in case it was a big catch.

The first thing that we do after we've caught a bird is put the standard aluminum band on their right leg.

The next step is to attach the color band and the alpha flag. The flag goes on the left leg of the bird. In these photos, a godwit (top) and a Whimbrel (bottom) get their respective flags. The flags are glued shut to make sure they don't fall off the birds.

The next thing we check for on birds is we measure their wing length, and also age birds based on their plumage and molt. In these pictures, we are checking the wing molt of an adult godwit (top) and a juvenile Whimbrel (bottom).

Bill length and total head length are also measured with calipers, in addition to the length of their tarsus (leg). These measurements can help to sex birds (females have longer bills than males). The final measurement that we take from birds is their mass. Mass can also help us to sex the birds, as females are again heavier than males.

While we mostly caught our target species while netting, we caught a few gulls with one capture. In one particular netting, we caught a Franklin's Gull (above) and a Brown-hooded Gull (bottom). The Brown-hooded Gull is a first year bird, and does not have a complete brown hood.

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