Bird Banding...My Progress

I have wanted to learn about bird banding for a couple of years.  I have finally started on that is a log of my progress.  Banding requires being able to extract the bird from the nets, ID'ing the bird, putting a band on the bird's leg, aging and sexing the bird, measuring the wing, determining the amount of fat the bird is carrying, and weighing the bird.  There are so many details to learn and the "text book" is very, very thick!  Thankfully, there are knowledgeable banders who are eager to share their knowledge.  To be considered for certification as a bird bander, you need to successfully band a minimum of 500 birds.

May 6, 2013
Today was my best banding day ever!!!  I had several successful extractions (still nervous and passed off birds I could have extracted) and I almost doubled by banding total to date...still a very, very, long way off 500 birds :)

Gray Catbird (1)
Yellow Warbler (3)
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (1)
Baltimore Oriole (1)                                                                     Total Extracted to Date: 17

Gray Catbird (1)
Yellow Warbler (5)
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (1)
Common Yellow-throat (1) (cutest little bird face I have ever seen!!)
White-throated Sparrow (1)
Red-winged Blackbird (1)
Swamp Sparrow (1)
Tree Swallow (1)                                                                            Total Banded to Date: 25

Here is a picture today of today's most exciting bird...
Hairy Woodpecker
 And here is me with the Baltimore Oriole I extracted :)
Me and Baltimore Oriole

April 29, 2013
Today was a bit of a slow day, but it saved the best bird until last :)

Red-winged Blackbird (1)
Swamp Sparrow (1)                                                                       Total Extracted to Date: 11

Red-winged Blackbird (1)
Swamp Sparrow (1)                                                                      Total Banded to Date: 13

Here is the best bird of the day...
Orange-crowned Warbler...I ID'd this bird :)

April 27, 2013
Today was my first day banding since the was so exciting (and a little bit nervous) to be back working with the birds up close and in person!  It wasn't a really busy day and there were lots of hands on deck for the amount of birds to process.

Red-winged Blackbird (1)
White-throated Sparrow  (1)                                                                Total Banded to Date: 13

Here is a picture from today....
Me and the White-throated Sparrow I banded.

November 3, 2012
A really slow day at the passerine station!  I didn't get any successful extractions today, but not because I didn't try.  The two I got to attempt, one, I thought was tangled more than it was so was nervous to attempt it and the other was tangled around its wing so I passed it off too.  I need to really work on not being so nervous.  I did however get to band a couple of birds today :)  To read more about today, check out this post.

Hermit Thrush (1)
Fox Sparrow (1)                                                                   Total Extracted to Date: 9

October 27, 2012
Not a really birdy day, but a great day none the less.  Today I worked with two banders I had never met before...Caroline and Steve.  It was a good experience to work with new people as everyone has something different to bring to the table.  Bob, the man I normally work with, has been banding for more than 20 years, so he just knows what he is looking at and can age and sex very fast....which is a bit intimidating when you are new!  Caroline and Steve have been banding for considerably less time, so they had to look more up (and we got a lot of tough birds!), so I got to see the thinking process, which was a great encouragement to me.  They both offered me a lot of great advice.  I also learned first hand that sparrows can bite pretty hard and why Steve calls Black-capped Chickadees "Black-capped Woodpeckers" :D  The highlight of my day was learning the "photographer's grip" with a gorgeous Eastern Phoebe!
Eastern Phoebe in my hand :)

Extracted from the mist nets:
Slate-coloured Junco (1)
White-throated Sparrow (1)                                                Total Extracted to date: 9

October 20, 2012:
A very slow day for birds.  The winds were quite strong and we picked far more leaves out of the nets than birds!  Many of the birds extracted today had been banded earlier this week.  Highlight of the day was getting to handle the Eastern Phoebe that was caught today, and going through the motions with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet :)

Extracted from the mist nets:
Hermit Thrush (1)
Thrush (not sure variety..accidently let it fly out of the bag) (1)
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (1)                                    Total Extracted to date: 7

Hermit Thrush (1)                                                               Total Banded to date: 7

October 13, 2012:
This was an amazing day for a couple reasons.  First, it was the first time I got to extract birds from the nets and the first day I got to band a bird.  Secondly, God answered my prayer for birds in the nets in a huge way...a net run that "netted" us about 70 birds at once!  It was crazy!  In total, 101 birds were banded today!  Here is a picture I took of some of the back-up hooks we used for the abundance of birds.  We also had a hook on another wall full, as well as the normal hook above the banding table.
Lots of birds to band!

Extracted from the Mist Nets:
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (2)
Hermit Thrush (1)
White-throated Sparrow (1)                                                Total Extracted to date: 4

Hermit Thrush (2)
White-throated Sparrow (2)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (1)
Swainson's Thrush (1)                                                    Total Banded to date: 6


  1. I'm so excited for you that you're learning how to do this.
    I would love to witness this for myself one day. I'll be retiring in December and hope to spend lots of time on bird-related activities. Is it ever okay to just come and watch?

    1. There have been a lot of visitors to the banding station! During the fall, if you go to the hawk tower and ask the counter, he can hook you up with the banders that day. Generally, there are banders there a couple days during the week and Saturday and Sunday for sure. The season is pretty much done for now. Banding starts up in the spring again at Hillman Marsh....not sure how to visit there since I haven't been in the spring before.