On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in early March, the Young Macnamaras were led by the club’s youth programmer Alicia Salyi to a local farm for the largest YM outing ever. They were greeted by Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club wildlife expert Fergus Nicoll, who had set up a bird-banding demonstration. Each child got a checklist to keep track of the birds banded, and seen, as they practised their naturalist skills.
YMs saw how birds are safely caught in mist nets – large panels of light, intertwined fibres that flying birds cannot easily see. As feeders and other attractions around the nets drew birds in to be netted, we quickly learned the bander’s credo: Birds come first – before science, before fun. Some birds were caught in metal ground cages that attract birds inside to piles of food, where they are safe until the bander retrieves them.
After a shiny aluminum band is put the bird’s leg, Fergus demonstrated how banders look for and record its age and sex, wing measurements, and fat content. On this day, we were collected data on Black-Capped Chickadees and some male Dark-Eyed Juncos. Other sightings included a Hairy Woodpecker, a Red-Tailed Hawk and a juvenile Bald Eagle. Our day ended with a short walk to find other birds after attracting them by “pishing.” The Young Macnamaras learned great bird identification skills and had a big thank you for Fergus.