Airdate: Aug 10, 2018
Scientist: Elise Lapham
Secrets of Bird Banding
Tracking avian populations on Block island.
Secrets of Bird BandingCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.Miles off the New England coast, Block Island is a way station for birds during their twice yearly migrations between North and South America. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Ambience, birdsElise Lapham is a volunteer bird bander who lives on Block Island. For the past twenty years, she's helped the US Fish and Wildlife service track bird populations by sending detailed information on more than 60,000 birds that she's banded. Lapham: To band birds you first have to catch them. Some people trap them, but I use what they call a mist net. These are very fine nylon nets and they're about eight feet tall, and they fold in, sort of, pockets. The birds really don't see them. They fly into them and they fall into the pockets and they're not hurt in any way. We go down and untangle them, put them in a little net bag, and bring them back to band them."After I've put the band on, I write down the band number, then I write down the name of the bird, and I have a little ruler that I measure its wing. This wing is 6.1 millimeter. Then I'm going to weigh it, and people laugh because I wrap it up lightly in a bread bag, and put it on a scale. And this bird weighs 9.2 grams. You could put three of these birds in an envelope and send them for a twenty-five cent stamp. Then, I let them go. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.