“It was a dark and humid morning; the birds sang in unison – except at occasional intervals, when checked by the sound of our boots as we swept up the forest path (for it is in the heart of Crossways Preserve that our scene lies), snapping little twigs, and speaking in hushed voices as we passed from net to net, alarmed at the unsettling reality of our already-forming 6AM forehead sweat.”
And so began June 11th, our third day of banding.
It was a bit of a slow day in terms of captures, with just 11 birds in 5.5 hours of netting. But that’s alright, because we caught a couple of exciting things, including one new species and our first — well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out. 😀
Our totals for the day:
These numbers were not too surprising, since the temperature approached 80 degrees as early as 11am – like us, birds tend to become less active in such conditions. Actually, their methods of keeping cool in the heat are not very different from our own.
I’ve made a table to illustrate this fact, not only for your reading please, but also because everything is more sciencey in a table.
Pant to dissipate heat
*Ok, humans don’t exactly pant… but make me run in 80 degree weather and yes, yes I do
Take a dip in the water
Jump into your neighbor’s pool without permission; run through a sprinkler
Seek shade and become less active
Hammock naps, anyone?!
Flutter wings to circulate more air over skin
TURN ALL THE FANS ON HIGH
Spread feathers during breezes to expose more skin to cooling air
Break out the tank tops
So you see, we are not much different. If they had electricity and thumbs and an affinity for Mexican food, we’d pretty much be the same.
And now that you understand the complex behavioral processes of temperature regulation in birds and humans, I’ll get back to the banding.
We ended up closing the nets just a little early due to the heat, but we still had a great time, and caught some good birds before we had to close up shop. Here are some photo highlights (and I’ll start with the best because I know you are in extreme suspense and I don’t want to take years off your life).
And the other awesome bird for the day… OUR FIRST FLEDGLING!!! A Northern Cardinal.
Who had quite a lot of swagger for someone so young and inexperienced… I feel like it will probably grow up to be a rapper.
I mean look at this stare.
A primary purpose of the MAPS project is to collect data on the survival of both adult and juvenile birds from year to year, which we hope will tell us at which life-cycle stage bird populations are being limited; essentially, which of the primary demographic parameters of productivity, recruitment, or survival, are having the greatest impact on their numbers over time.
Catching our first fledgling at Crossways means we are beginning to capture another aspect of the avian life-cycle on the preserve, and are starting to build a data set that can be used in future years.
In addition to our feathered friends, we also had some other visitors to the station.
Notice how there is a very particular ‘oh-my-goodness-I’m-holding-a-bird’ smile? There’s just nothing like it. 🙂 And possibly the best part of holding birds is releasing them afterward, to watch them fly off into the sunrise.
Knowing they will now go and spread the word about how we are giving away free bracelets.
In spite of the lower capture rates and the lethargy-inducing temperatures for this third banding session, getting out and catching birds absolutely never disappoints, and it was another fantastic day at Crossways. A huge thanks to everyone who came out to help, and to Katie and Todd for your awesome photos!
We banded again on the 24th, so come back soon to see highlights of all the amazing birds we caught – and I promise, there were some pretty cool ones.