Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 48 of 51

47 May 2017 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community termine its species, age, sex, and general health. Other data recorded include tail, wing, and bill lengths, bill grooving, num- ber of gorget feathers, and fat. But first, using small special pliers, the bander places a miniature aluminum band on the bird's leg—a band cut from a 4" x 5" sheet with 300 uniquely numbered and lettered pieces, rolled and strung onto a clip, in order. It's tedious to do, but the reward is getting to clamp the "jewelry" onto a bird's leg. The bander then checks to make sure the band fits correctly. Even for birds so small, there are differ- ent band sizes, in increments of 0.2 mm, each with its own specific pliers. For ex- ample, gravid ("pregnant") females require larger bands to accommodate swelling in their legs, which they use with their bellies to incubate eggs. Males take smaller bands. Don't worry—the bands are so light the birds hardly feel them. Grooving on the bill determines age. "Hummers hatch with 'wrinkles' on their justable table to surround the feeder. The wire cage has a sliding door attached to a fi shing line on a fi shing reel. When a hum- mer flies inside, the bander instantly drops the door and traps the bird. Reaching in- side, the bander carefully grasps the tiny creature, puts it into a cloth bag, and brings it to the banding table. Soft-sided mesh traps are also used, de- pending on the situation and the bander's choice. All traps are constantly checked to ensure no birds are left inside for too long before removal and processing. Next, the bander checks to see if the bird is already banded. If so, is it from another place or time, or one that was just handled and recaptured? Some banders put tempo- rary paint on the birds' heads to tell more easily whether they have been captured recently. After enfolding the hummer with a cor- ner of nylon or fl annel, "processing" be- gins. This means that the bander inspects, measures, and weighs the hummer to de- n ABOVE: Shown here is one of several types of soft mesh traps. It operates up and down around the feeder on a fishing line. Idaho City, Idaho, 25 August 2012. Photo by © Elise Faike n BELOW: Visitors surround the banding table to watch humbanding in action and learn about hummingbirds at the Rudeen Ranch Hummingbird Roundup. A girl holds a cooperative hummer for release while others observe a bander processing another hummer. Stacy Peterson (in the red jack - et) sits with the banders as Carl Rudeen stands to his left (in the Hawaiian shirt) explaining intrigu - ing hummingbird facts. Rudeen Ranch, Idaho, 30 May 2010. Photo by © Elise Faike

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