Friday, February 27, 2009

Bird Banding at Carpenter Nature Center

Every Friday the folks over at Carpenter Nature Center catch and band birds. On the last Friday of the month they open up the banding to the public so that ordinary people can get a close up look at the birds and learn how and why people band birds. Birding has been a bit slow lately, on most trips I just keep seeing the same birds, and we just got a bunch of snow dumped on us so I figured that watching the banding would be a different change of pace. So today after I got of off work I stopped over to check things out. The snow seemed to bring the birds out, as quite a few birds were caught while I was there, even though the variety was not that unusual. Most of what was banded were juncos with a vicious female cardinal and a redpoll being the exceptions. Even though I did not really take any pictures I did have fun talking with people who have spent a lot of time looking at birds close up and in great detail.
This was not my first visit to see the banding, I try to go 5 or 6 times a year, so I do have some pics that I took back on September 26th. Each fall we are lucky to see both white-crowned and white-throated sparrows as the migrate from Canada down to the southern United States.
The field sparrow is a common resident in Minnesota, except during the winter, which is why they are frequently caught and banded.
White breasted nuthatch are year round residents but they are not caught as often during the winter. This is mainly because during the winter birds are trapped using ground cages which are less likely to catch birds like nuthatches. During the warmer months mist nets are used to catch the birds, and they are much more likely to snare a nuthatch as it flies between trees or to a feeder.
Late September is a fun time to check out the banding because there are many different types of birds that are migrating through the area at that time. When Nashville warblers migrate south most of the younger birds follow the east coast while many of the mature birds will take a more westerly route.
An unusual catch this day was a brown creeper. While creepers can sometimes be seen on the trees around the park they banders typically only catch a few each year.
While the banding is always very interesting I never like to spend too much time inside when I am at an amazing place like Carpenter Nature Center. So I took a short hike around the grounds during a lull in the banding. I did find a couple of interesting birds to photograph that were very unlikely to be captured for banding, like this northern flicker.

I also spotted a passing turkey vulture. Since Carpenter is situated on the bluffs of the St Croix River just north of where it joins the Mississippi it is common to see raptors flying over. They usually take advantage of the air currents caused by the river bluffs to fly using less energy.


Lilli & Nevada said...

These are gorgeous photos of the birds, i had wondered how they caught birds to be able to band them. Thank you for taking the time to explain that..

Anonymous said...

Wow....This is a great post..I love the little creeper. I've had one using one of the suet feeders all winter which I think is kind of unusual for a creeper....Michelle