Spring Bird Banding at Prince Edward Point, Ontario
We arrived just in time for the daily bird count, which takes place from 7 to 8 o'clock each morning. Brian Joyce was the bird bander in charge that day, he is also the Vice President of the PEPtBO (Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory). With as many volunteers and bird enthusiasts as they can muster, the walk begins. With a large gang, generally more types of birds are spotted, but being good at sighting bird species and recognizing bird calls is like any other talent or passion. It takes experience.  
Sharp Shinned Hawk
As we walked, Brian's arms seemed never to stop moving as he pointed at what to us, seemed like dark specks in trees. He would call out the types and number of birds to George, who is a volunteer of the spring banding. Brian would stop and listen sometimes and name a species of bird from its song. A keen ear and eye are essential for this daily routine.  
American Goldfinch
After the morning count, we settled in to watch Brian do the banding. The volunteers extract the birds from the mist nets, which are made of very delicate mesh that won't hurt the birds before they are collected. Net rounds occur every 20 minutes. Volunteers extract the birds from 7 net lanes consisting of up to 16 nets that are each 10 feet high and 40 feet long.  
Volunteers at the Mist Nets
They are then brought back individualy in soft opaque cotton bags. At the Van Cott Cottage the bags are hung on hooks while being organized by whether they were caught in the mist nets, ground traps or the jay trap. The ground birds have mettle mesh cages they walk in for free seed but can't figure their way out.  
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Brian takes one cotton bag at a time and reaches in gently to take the bird out. This is where a third sense comes into play. Besides a keen ear and eye, he uses feel. For fun, he figures out which type of bird he has by its size, if it bites and how hard. Once he has the head under control, the sharpness of the claws and how much they dig in helps him determine what kind of bird it is. Painful, but often accurate, this is a third sense only good bird bander have for typing birds.  
Blue Jay
As he lifts them out of the bag, we see that his fingers and hands are so delicate and experienced at handling the birds, that most of them seem tame in his grasp as he casually tips them to the side to chose the size of band for their leg.

The first pose for holding the birds is with their heads between his index and middle finger, and their body held by his thumb, pinky and ring fingers.

White-crowned Sparrow
Spring Bird Banding Continued / Page #2


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