Today I took my older sister BJ to the Wednesday in the Wild program at Wah-Ba-Shika Nature Center in Battleground, Indiana. Mick and Sally Weeks, Purdue Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, were the presenters of this week’s program.
Mick Weeks explained that in research, it is easier if you have the bird in hand in order to sex the bird, age the bird, and get an overall census of the area.
You need a federal permit to capture the birds. A bird left in a mist net for as little as 30 minutes is in danger of dying. Songbirds are protected by law in the U.S. and it is illegal to have birds, nests, or feathers. In Europe, it is still legal to capture and eat songbirds.
Why is ageing a bird important? To assess productivity of birds in a certain area. It general takes about two weeks for birds to mature from hatching to flying.
Looking at plumage helps sex the bird. This time of year, birds may still be brooding. Mostly female birds have a brood patch. Most males do not help with brooding. A brood patch will show as a raised, blister-like area filled with fluid if she is still incubating.
Dr. Weeks also talked about bird banding, although they didn’t band any birds today.
- Goldfinch – male – BJ got to hold him and I got to pet him
- House Sparrow – male, female, and immature
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Brown-headed Cowbird – male
- Red-winged Blackbird – female