Monday, May 2, 2011

Bird Monitoring at Long Point Bird Observatory



In this video clip, Stuart MacKenzie, the ornithologist who is in charge of the Old Cut Station of Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO), extracts a Northern Flicker from a mist net, and places it into a carrying bag while several members of the IBA Canada Committee, including Nature Canada’s Director of Conservation, Mara Kerry observe the procedure in fascination. As an experienced bird bander myself, I anticipate the Flicker to begin its loud scream-like call. Most bird banders are accustomed to this when handling Flickers, though this particular Flicker is rather subdued and quite.

After two days of indoor presentations and discussions during the National Important Bird Areas meeting in April, members of the IBA Canada Committee spent their last morning together in the field, at the LPBO, a branch of Bird Studies Canada. LPBO is the longest continuously operating bird observatory in North America. It recently celebrated its 50th year of data gathering, which includes the capture and banding of over 800,000 birds.

When we arrived at the station, it was already 8:30 am, and the station was buzzing with an impressive compliment of staff and volunteers. Within the banding lab, many cloth bags were pulsating in odd ways due to the birds within. The bander-in-charge took one of the bags off its hook, carefully opened it, slid his hand inside, and moments later retracted his hand with a bird in his firm but gentle grip.

The cloth bags are an important tool for banding stations everywhere. Typically, birds are stored in cloth bags, which provide a relatively dark, breathable and safe environment for temporary storage. They are placed in these bags after they've been extracted from the mist nets outside. Mist nest are typically about 10 to 12 metres long and about three metre high, and are comprised of fine mesh arranged on four or five horizontal panels. The extracted birds are transported in cloth bags to the banding lab, where they safely wait until processing (identification, measurement, ageing and determination of sex, and banding), before release back into the wild.

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