A Bird in the Hand—and I Mean That Literally
There’s nothing that can get you much closer to nature than holding a tiny bird in your hand—or a large one, for that matter—and a number of Penn State students are getting an opportunity to do just that. Volunteer Nick Kerlin ’71 is overseeing bird-banding sessions again this fall at the Arboretum, where students can get experience in the process of catching, banding, assessing, and releasing a variety of wild birds.
(That’s not Nick in the photo; it’s an unidentified student, setting free a newly banded chickadee last Saturday.)
The public is welcome at the sessions, and I enjoy stopping by when I can. I’m fascinated by the banding process, and it’s fun to see the various species of birds that get trapped in the nets, from tiny ruby crowned kinglets all the way up to robins and mockingbirds and catbirds. Plus I find it heartening to know there are undergraduate students who are into this kind of stuff.
At a session last Saturday, I shot a short video of animal-sciences major Jill Koren weighing a male downy woodpecker by putting it upside-down into an empty prescription-pill bottle, then examining its wings in an attempt to determine its age. Also note the twin 4-year-old visitors watching intently.
And here’s a photo of another animal-sciences major, Amber Wenrich, holding a catbird that she’s just banded and is about to release:
Incidentally, Nick is always amiable about welcoming visitors who stop by, and he’s especially good with the younger visitors. Here’s another short video clip in which he lets one of those young twins hold a song sparrow and release it.
For more about bird banding at the Arboretum, you might take a look at my previous stories and photos here, here, and here. The fall sessions continue through the Oct. 25; you can download a PDF of the schedule here.
Tina Hay, editor