How We Band Birds at the Coyote Creek Field Station
Scientists and community scientists capture passerines in mist nets and collect data on them year-round at the Coyote Creek Field Station. Hover over each photo below to learn how we band birds at the Coyote Creek Field Station.
Each bird is given a loose fitting, uniquely numbered identification band around its leg. This ID number is the key that allows us and other bird observatories to track this bird if it happens to be recaptured in the future. Only one band is placed on each bird-when a bird is recaptured, we simply read the number on its existing band, take measurements, and let it go.
We use several band sizes to fit the many different leg sizes found on various bird species. They are comfortable but not too loose so that they fall off. We don't have to worry about banding juvenile birds with a band that might become too small when they get older since birds don't normally leave the nest until they are fully grown.
Bird banders are highly trained to pay close attention to what they see while processing a bird. For example, a way to often tell the age of a bird is by observing its skull through the transparent skin on its head. Many birds grow a second layer of skull when fully mature that is separated from the first juvenile layer by a series of "columns" found between the two. Often, mature birds have little dots that can be seen on the top layer. These dots are the tops of the columns and if present can help us determine the bird's maturity level.
Initially, the information is recorded in the field while the bird is being processed. Our biologists and banders work quickly, so as to release the bird as soon as possible, but also carefully with attention to detail and accuracy. This is very important in maintaining the value and integrity of the information we collect while banding birds.