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Nature Reserve & Biological Station

  • Caroline and Chiara

How was yesterday's mistnetting?

The original plan this morning was to open mistnets and band birds behind the station house. But we woke up with rain at 5.30 am and I had to postpone the field work for the week after the Easter weekend. As the rain continued throughout this morning I had to plan some other activity with the interns for today. After typing in the data from yesterday’s bird banding into the Excel sheet, I asked my interns Caroline and Chiara to write something about our bird banding yesterday in order to submit a blog post.

As their view of things differs a bit they actually wrote two separate blog posts. So here they are!

Post by Caroline G.

Caroline is a master student at Faculté des sciences agronomiques de Gembloux, Université de Liège, Belgium and studies management of forests and natural spaces.

During my conservation internship at Un poco del Chocó, I had the chance to participate in the mistnetting project of Nicole and... It was a very nice experience ! For the first time in my life, I could touch, observe... and band birds ! But pay attention! Working with mistnets is like doing sport ! You have to wake up early the morning and be ready at 6:00am ! When we arrive on the site chosen by Nicole, we open the nets quickly and then we wait... We wait for an half hour. In the meantime, we tell stories about our life, the mistnetting, etc. and we sincerely hope that a lot of birds will be caught in the nets. Then, we go and check the nets. It is ... magic ... or not! Depending on the daily activity of the birds, but also on the banding site, we always catch a different number of birds. But when we catch birds it is really fantastic! To begin, we have to take the birds out of the net... It is not really easy... But Nicole has the hand for that! "Extracting a bird from a mistnet is a matter of common sense and logic!" (citation from the Banding Manual). Hmmm….hmmmm. To continue, Nicole puts the bird in a bag and then we bring it back to the banding place: a place where we can analyze the birds without disturbing the bird activity near the nets. At this time, Nicole becomes a nurse for the birds... or maybe a tyrant? :-) She takes a lot of measurements on the birds, blows on the wings, the body etc... but actually the first thing to do is to put a band/ring on the bird! There are different sizes of metal rings with individual numbers and also different color rings... In fact, a real shop of rings! The measurements are noted and after that bird is released and a new life WITH a ring begins for it!

Nicole measuring the tarsus length of a Bicolored Antbird

The most interesting thing about mistnetting are the recaptures. A previously banded bird could be caught again in the nets and then Nicole can see changes in the animal. With enough recapture data in the future it is possible to estimate the rate of survival, recruitment, reproduction etc. of the different bird species ! Muy interesante !!

So, during my internship, I learned to hold a bird in my hand and how to handle it... without letting it go (and without killing it ;-) ). They are so soft and very light! I also learned to observe wing molt and feather wear and to recognize the presence of parasites, for example. Furthermore I learned to identify the bird species with a bird guide book and I banded a few birds! A lot of learning in a little time: perfect ... even with so many mosquitos !

Caroline banding a Bicolored Antbird

I saw a lot of different and very interesting bird species; even a beautiful Barred Forest-Falcon ! Wow! But my favourite was a tiny bird called Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant !

A Barred Forest-falcon caught in the net

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant