Friday, April 07, 2006

Bird Banding at Ponca

A day trip to Ponca to learn some rudiments of bird banding from Leesia Marshall, a graduate student at UArk. She was working four nets on Adds Creek between Ponca and the Buffalo R. I got to learn something about setting up and removing the nets, extracting caught birds (not a simple thing given how the flexible geometry of the netting disappears into the feathers, and these critters have tiny feet and little alarmed eyes), applying bands, recording data and whatnot. Mostly I learned that the person with waders, her, stays much dryer then the person wading in sneakers and jeans up to his knees, me. I got to handle a Kingfisher, a Louisiana Waterthrush (the target of the research effort) and a Lincoln's Sparrow, the most elegant little brown job in our region. The Kingfisher has a long beak, with back-ponting serrations, and an aggressive attitude. I figured out it was safer to just let him grab a finger, than to keep poking me. The netting got caught in his fish-grabbing beak as well as his feet and really stiff feathers.


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