I’ve long been a fan of the bird-banding program offered by the Arboretum at Penn State. (I’ve written about it here, here, and here.) Under the direction of volunteer Nick Kerlin ’71, who has both a state and federal license to do this sort of thing, students put up “mist nets” to catch wild birds, then fit each bird with a tiny metal ID band. They record data on the bird’s weight, age, sex, etc., and then set it free.
Nick sends the data to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Laboratory in Patuxent, Md., where scientists can use the information to monitor the health and migration patterns of bird populations.
I like the research aspect of bird-banding, of course, but I also like how it offers Penn State wildlife science students—and anyone else who’s interested in stopping by—a chance to learn about birds in a very up-close way. It’s also a great chance to photograph the birds. This morning I took a macro lens along, to try some close-up portraits, and I thought I’d share a few of the images I got. Above is a female cardinal, and below is a more extreme close-up of the same image:
The group this morning also banded several white-throated sparrows, a handsome bird that, around here, shows up in the fall and stays until spring. Here’s one:
And here’s a tufted titmouse. Note the leg band he’s just acquired:
There are two more banding sessions remaining in the fall season; you can see more information about them here.
Tina Hay, editor