Thursday, May 07, 2009

Banding the Birds


Camera sounds working overtime... I silently chanted Go Fuji, Go Fuji, Go Fuji!

When I heard we’d Bird by Butt and watch bird banding on Monday, I could hardly contain my curious self. First bird banding! First Indigo Bunting! Will someone pinch me?


I’m happy we all had the opportunity to photograph birds before the rain came to New River.


Bill Hilton of Hilton Pond in York, SC banded several birds including his specialty - Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. How I’d love to travel to Costa Rica next winter to assist in banding hummingbirds with his Operation Ruby Throat!


Lincoln Sparrow. Lifer!

I remember one of Bill’s first statements that morning:
Don’t take this science personally. Meaning, the birds are alright.


Hold them firmly but delicately. See? There’s no struggle, no stress.


Our day at the Meadows was a sunny, social one of meeting festival participants from around the country. I knew some familiar names and finally made the connections. Have I said how much fun I had? And how well we were cared for and fed at Opossum Creek Retreat? The accommodations were ideal and the meals were homemade and absolutely delicious.


Hi, Lynne! Lynne (Hasty Brook) reduced me to tears of laughter, anywhere, anyhow - all week.


Female Eastern Towhee


Elegant, I think. I don’t see the females very often.


White-throated Sparrow


Female green gem weighs less than a nickle.


Nina (Nature Remains) watched intently while Tim (From the Faraway, Nearby) watched for his next photo opportunity. Both are artistic photographers.


I was impressed with the ease in which Bill handled the delicate hummingbird. It would have been a complete disaster for an untrained handler.


Mission accomplished.


Later that day, Nina and I returned to the Meadows to see another hummingbird caught up in the mist net. I tried to concentrate on the science and remain matter-of-fact. It was very difficult this time.

In the hands of the bander, Hummer made an unfamiliar sound.

I had never heard a hummingbird in distress.

Or cry?

Nina and I looked at each other and turned away.

We had enough of banding that day.
Oh, I have so much more to share of New River and beautiful people. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Mary - a great picture of our day. I love the photos of the indigo bunting; that blue really pops!

Susan Gets Native said...

Like Bill said, the birds are okay. But it's hard to look at them sometimes while they are in hand....I got used to it just because I've been involved in so many bandings. The birds forget.
And think of all the data this project is creating!

Now. You must go to my blog this instant. Photos of two certain bloggers in the hot tub.
Go now.
: )

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

That was such a fun day- so relaxed. You crack me up!

Dawn Fine said...

Looks like you all had a spectacular time..
I am having fun reading everyone's stories.
Great photos!

A New England Life said...

I had no idea they banded Hummingbirds! Well you know I'll be looking from now on .... checking those little legs constantly.

The Indigo Bunting is to die for! What a beautiful, radiant bird! Sorry to hear there was so much rain though : (


Barbie ♥ said...

OH!!! You got to see the Indigo Bunting! I am so jealous ;-) Amazing photos, Mary and what a neat post!

mon@rch said...

OMG . . . I am soo glad for everyone! Looked like so much fun and Bill is a great banding! Love the photos! Welcome to my world!

jane augenstein said...

Oh Mary!!! Beautiful pictures of the Indigo, knock your eyes out blue, what a beautiful shade of blue! Your pictures are to die for, just great.
I'll bet you had a great time didn't you?

Mary said...


Come to West Virginia next spring!!!!!

Diane AZ said...

Looks like you all had a great time. Marvelous photos, love the Female Eastern Towhee!

KGMom said...

Oh, I bet you were just in bird heaven.
I am always struck with how the birds have open beaks--as if to say--what do you think you are doing?!?
Did you hold your breath when the hummer was being banded?

Mary said...

Donna, I don't remember. I was completely in another world watching that...

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Strolling through all of the blogs of people that were at the Feastival has made me feel like I was there...almost. Great pictures Mary. I will look forward to seeing all you care to share.

Ruth said...

What a great experience. I would love to see bird banding like this sometime. I have seen Trumpeter swans banded, but they weren't quite so delicate. It was the bander who was at greater risk of injury

J.G. said...

Such mixed feelings: amazing to see the birds so still and so close up, a dream to handle them and feel how light they are, scary to think that they are frightened (even if they don't remember it later).

All captured beautifully in your words and pictures. Thank you so much for sharing all this!

Corey said...

I've never seen banding, but it looks really fun. That female Towhee is one of my faves.

Kathleen said...

Each bird photo is brilliant! I'm so jealous. You got to bird before the rain!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Gorgeous photography, Mary. Your Fuji rocks!
I have heard that thin little eeeee that hummingbirds in peril (in the hand) give, and it always undoes me completely.
You notice that I was never present for banding--I can't be there; I empathize too strongly with the birds. I know that sounds weird from a Science Chimp but it gets me somewhere down deep to see them brought to earth and handled like that.

Wendy said...

What beautiful pics! You must have had a wonderful time. Looks that way! I can't imagine holding a hummer. They're so fragile. But, I'd love to visit Costa Rica and see more hummers too!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I've been thinking about you and wondering how your trip went. The indigo bunting is so beautiful! I look forward to hearing more!

Heidi said...

I really want to try banding just because I'd love to hold a bird in my hands... but yeah, i'm sure my stomach would be in knots as they are in the nets.

Beth said...

how tiny must those hummingbird bands be? Oh goodness, you all had such a great time. It is fun for the rest of us to read about it from all of your perspectives.

Jayne said...

So very cool to see!

Beth said...

I loved watching the banding process, but I had a hard time following Bill's instructions to not take it personally. The close-up looks at those feathers though made it impossible to turn away. Gorgeous pix, Mary.


Anonymous said...

The indigo bunting...oh, my!!!!
Just the picture gives me chills.

The hummingbird cry? Tears in my eyes just reading about it.

Oh, Mary...thank you.

Richard said...

Beautiful pictures Mary. I almost didn't recognize Lynne without the pink hat.

TR Ryan said...

Beautiful photos Mary! I agree with JZ - I just had to walk away.

Kerri Farley said...

Wow Mary! Sounds like such a Wonderful time!!!!!!

Dog_geek said...

Indigo Bunting - WOW! What a beautiful bird - I've always wanted to see one in person. I would have a tough time with the banding, too.

Appalachian Lady said...

I have indigo buntings at our feeder but would love to see one up close like that.

I am looking forward to seeing more photos of your great trip.

Mary C said...

What a great day. I'm so glad the bird banding happened before the rain arrived. Your photos are magnificent, Mary. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. I'm looking forward to more reports from you and the others in the "flock."

nikkipolani said...

Thank you thank you, Mary, for such wonderful closeups of the birds' colors and textures and faces and toes... wonderful!

Kim said...

Such a neat experience Mary. Love the pictures. The hummingbird picture at the end is kind of a bummer though. Glad it was set free as all birds should be.

Anonymous said...

Mary, these are wonderful photos. I saw the bunting on your flickr page, and had to come look. What was you favorite, or most special photo capture?

Tina said...

Just love that blue on that bunting. Your pictures of it are wonderful.
Looks like everyone really enjoyed meeting and hanging out..
so glad you had such a wonderful time!

Balisha said...

I am enjoying this so much. I love the pretty.

RuthieJ said...

Those are great photos Mare! Looks like you and Fuji are getting along just fine.

Kathi said...

Mary, Zick, and all:

"Don't get emotionally involved. We are SCIENTISTS."

I dunno, it's kinda hard when you see a tiny mote of feathers, more air than bird, entangled in the mesh of the mist nets.

Still, when would you ever see hummingbird feet if not for banding?

Mary, you nailed that Indigo Bunting! Wasn't he da bomb? Too blue for words.


Susan Ellis said...

The birds are, or are not, okay...depending on the species...but if I tell a friend, and you tell a friend, and so on and so some point maybe, someone will get the point, and pass it on...and so on, and so on...

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I know I'll remember certain parts of the WV week more easily than others-the banding will be one.
Such a rare opportunity to see these wonders up close--and amazing to me how much data was collected on each.

The little ones at my feeders now--I immediately feel I know just a little bit better.

Vickie said...

Wonderful post and photos. Certainly shows the two sides of banding--the kindness in skill and science and the tugs to the heart strings! I'm enjoying all the fun everyone had learning, birding and flocking as bloggers!

Kathie Brown said...

Ah, Mary, I am just getting started with blogging about the whole thing myself. Nice series of photos here. I can't wait to hear and see more!

Anonymous said...