Tracking Passerines: Data in Flight

Tracking Passerines: Data in Flight

Bird banding, simply, is capturing a bird, taking certain data about that bird, attaching a light-weight metal band to their leg that has an individual id number linked to its individual data set. Then it is released in hopes it will be caught again somewhere else at a different point and place in the bird’s life. 

This gives researchers crucial information about the life of birds, where they go to breed, feed, longevity, when they migrate and many other questions yet to be realized.  As our population grows and develops more wild places and the effects of climate change start to be understood it is invaluable base line data to help understand effects on birds and their habitats. 

Birds are also a reliable indicator of how healthy the habitats are that they choose to live/breed in. The information gathered from banding not only gives an insight in to the bird’s welfare but the whole ecosystem they inhabit.

 

Volunteer carefully removes an Alder flycatcher, Empidonax alnorum, from a mist net.  The Alder flycatcher is the last migratory specie to show up in the interior of Alaska during the summer season.  The yearly data collected on when these migrators arrive is vital for predicting how climate change will change their future behavior.

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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     Research biologist and migration station manager, Sue Guers opens a mist net in the boreal forest section of Creamer’s field Fairbanks, AK.    Placing nets in varying habitats allows researchers to understand how birds utilize different habitats.         © all images property of Tara Champion

Research biologist and migration station manager, Sue Guers opens a mist net in the boreal forest section of Creamer’s field Fairbanks, AK.  Placing nets in varying habitats allows researchers to understand how birds utilize different habitats.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 An Alder Flycatcher’s,   Empidonax alnorum ,  identity gets verified during the spring migration in Fairbanks, AK.        © all images property of Tara Champion

An Alder Flycatcher’s, Empidonax alnorum, identity gets verified during the spring migration in Fairbanks, AK.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 A passerine’s wing is inspected for signs of how old and healthy it is.    Volunteers and scientists go through many hours of training to insure they are correctly collecting data on all birds being banding.           © all images property of Tara Champion

A passerine’s wing is inspected for signs of how old and healthy it is.  Volunteers and scientists go through many hours of training to insure they are correctly collecting data on all birds being banding. 

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 Bands are made of lightweight aluminum so that behavior will in no way be altered while wearing it.    They are stamped with an identifying number that relates the bird’s specific data.           © all images property of Tara Champion

Bands are made of lightweight aluminum so that behavior will in no way be altered while wearing it.  They are stamped with an identifying number that relates the bird’s specific data. 

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 A scientist teaches a volunteer to hold a bird securely in order to collect data on it.           © all images property of Tara Champion

A scientist teaches a volunteer to hold a bird securely in order to collect data on it. 

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

  A European robin,    Erithacus rubecula,   awaits a volunteer to untangle it from a mist net near Nottingham, England.      Mist nets used to capture birds are specially designed to hold passerines without causing them any harm before they get banded.        © all images property of Tara Champion

A European robin, Erithacus rubecula, awaits a volunteer to untangle it from a mist net near Nottingham, England.  Mist nets used to capture birds are specially designed to hold passerines without causing them any harm before they get banded.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  Data taken differs depending on specie of bird and what local scientists are hoping to compare with certain data sets.  Standardized data is taken on all birds: age, sex, and overall fitness.  Specialized data can include items like beak length and variation in feather color and patterns.         © all images property of Tara Champion

Data taken differs depending on specie of bird and what local scientists are hoping to compare with certain data sets.  Standardized data is taken on all birds: age, sex, and overall fitness.  Specialized data can include items like beak length and variation in feather color and patterns.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 Two research biologists collect data inside the Alaska Bird Observatory’s banding tent.    The tent is perfectly situated along a public footpath through Creamer’s field in Fairbanks, AK, which invites the public to come in and learn about the importance of migratory birds and watch while the researchers band them.           © all images property of Tara Champion

Two research biologists collect data inside the Alaska Bird Observatory’s banding tent.  The tent is perfectly situated along a public footpath through Creamer’s field in Fairbanks, AK, which invites the public to come in and learn about the importance of migratory birds and watch while the researchers band them. 

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  Years of experience and knowledge past from scientists to volunteers allows these birds to be handled without harm coming to them.  Those involved are ever vigilante to not over stress them.         © all images property of Tara Champion

Years of experience and knowledge past from scientists to volunteers allows these birds to be handled without harm coming to them.  Those involved are ever vigilante to not over stress them.

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

 © all images property of Tara Champion

© all images property of Tara Champion

 A Swainson’s thrush,  Catharus ustulatus , is released back to the pressing task of breeding in the short Alaskan summer.     This is the main goal of banding, for birds to return to their normal routine with hopes that they will be recaptured at a later date either in the same location or one of the over 2,000 other banding sites operating in North American.           © all images property of Tara Champion

A Swainson’s thrush, Catharus ustulatus, is released back to the pressing task of breeding in the short Alaskan summer.   This is the main goal of banding, for birds to return to their normal routine with hopes that they will be recaptured at a later date either in the same location or one of the over 2,000 other banding sites operating in North American. 

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion

   
  
 
  
    
  
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  As climate change continues to drastically change ecosystems where passerines traditionally migrated to and from data being collected now may help scientists predict when and how bird species (and the host of organisms that rely on them) will respond.             © all images property of Tara Champion

As climate change continues to drastically change ecosystems where passerines traditionally migrated to and from data being collected now may help scientists predict when and how bird species (and the host of organisms that rely on them) will respond.  

 

 

© all images property of Tara Champion