I have been a bird watcher since my teens, and in my early twenties I had the opportunity to band birds at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory East of Thunder Bay, Ontario. It was the most incredible experience - to handle a wild bird and get to know it's personality, it's history (when we caught repeat visitors) and to know we were collecting scientific data to better understand bird population trends was rewarding.


These days, I volunteer for the Calgary Bird Banding Society, where I am a research assistant. Why band birds? It's to aid in the study and protection of wild birds. Birds are caught in nets, outfitted with a band that carries an original ID number, and they are measured, weighted, sexed and aged before being released back into the wild.  Data is collected from stations around the world, and is used to determine population levels, life span, and can determine movements of that individual bird. Sometimes the bird is recaptured elsewhere, and that banding lab will submit informaton to a central database, who will let others who have captured the bird know the stats of the bird and location it was captured. For example - a Veery banded near Hilton, NY on Sept 1, 2008, was recaptured at Trees, Belize, on May 8, 2017. Almost 9 years old is quite old for a Veery, and it travels a long ways during migration.


Some bird species are in sharp decline, and by capturing birds and recording their stats, we can better understand which species are being impacted, and start to look at how to help. Below is a pic of me trying to release a house wren, but he just won't leave my hand...


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