Bird Banding at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory


A few months ago Keely from State of Wilderness commented on my blog and after a quick look at her blog I realized she as in the greater Houston area too. This was exciting for me because I am in need of a naturey friend here, someone willing to go on hikes and explore and talk science-geek stuff. When I replied to her via email, as soon as I had hit send I worried I had come off a little too excited, too needy. But, no worries, all was well and soon she invited me and Chris to the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. Unfortunately that weekend we had camping plans and so I had to decline attending. Well, she offered up the outing again this past weekend and since I had nothing planned I decided to go for it.

We met in Lake Jackson for the bird banding at the observatory and then went on a short hike on the observatory grounds before heading across bayou to the Wilderness Park where we went after a geocache, my first in years. That will be a completely other post because today I bring you photos of the bird banding. My bird knowledge is minimal, I mostly know some raptors and wading birds with a few of the little brown-jobbers. It was fun to see the birds being banded and then to watch the kids take the birds from the main man banding them, and then release them.

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The most entertaining bird was by far the female cardinal. She was noisy and bit what she could, including the bander’s hand!

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Before he was done with the cardinal though, he hypnotized it somehow. It was completely still, lying on its back on the table while he tapped next to it. Then with a flush and flurry it was gone, to the tree right outside the pavilion. It was pretty incredible!

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The house wren was mostly tame and quiet with little fuss.

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This Carolina wren was a little more blustery. I only know most of these names because the bander was telling the group around the table.

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This was the most exotic bird that was banded while I was there, a Carolina chickadee. It’s beautiful!

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This bird was one of the first birds banded when I arrived and I am unsure what it is. If someone knows, please inform me!
*Later Edit*: A few birding friends tell me this may be a Savannah Sparrow. Anyone else conclude the same?

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Getting inspected for fat percentages and measuring wings.

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This eastern bluebird was not banded but made a nice appearance for long enough to get a few photos. I was standing under the pavilion and not close enough for a great shot.

How they catch the birds are by a thin, black net strung out near some boardwalks and trails on the property. Someone from the preserve continuously monitors the nets, bringing birds back to band and then release. Banding the birds assists with monitoring migrations and these birds may be caught in other locations throughout their flyway. I’d love to attend another even in the future, apparently when the hummingbirds come through they catch quite a few…I’d like to release one of them!

Happy Vernal Equinox!

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5 thoughts on “Bird Banding at Gulf Coast Bird Observatory

  1. Gayle Bicik says:

    Great pics!! Love the cardinal shots and the bluebird. Thanks for sharing

  2. Mom says:

    Very pretty!!! 🙂

  3. chel says:

    Oh, I love this! I always wondered how they did it. I’m glad you posted this, actually, because if I saw a banded (wild) bird I could just see myself desperately trying to cath it and return it to its owner (and then being heartbroken about the poor lost bird when I *wouldn’t* catch it!)

  4. Keely says:

    Glad you were able to make it and look forward to more nature adventures! I think the pics are GREAT! Good close ups.
    This weekend my cat actually managed to catch one of those savannah sparrows and was tormenting it in the garage. I am so mad at her! We got her away from it and let it go back into the wild but I am not sure how hurt it was.
    I am planning on posting about last weekend at some point but the kids have kept me very busy this week. Maybe over the next couple of days I can sit down to post our pictures.

  5. Traci Lehman says:

    Love the cardinal and the feathers a top her head. Makes her look spunky.

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