Markus and his Millsaps students netted, weighed, measured, examined and banded local birds at the reserve for 3-days this past week. Casey, Faryen and John were taught how to site and then setup Mist Nets for bird collection. Each net had to be placed in a likely flight path, but out of direct sunlight. Once a bird has been caught in a net it can quickly overheat, so it needs to be situated in a shaded area and then checked often (about every 30-minutes).
They were taught how to safely extract the birds from the sheer nets without damaging them, and then placing them in soft fabric bags for transport to the lab. Each bird was then weighed (sans bag), measured and examined. Establishing the sex of the bird (harder than it sounds), and checking for brood patches (bare spots on the breasts to facilitate blood circulation, thus enabling a bird to better warm the eggs in the nest) was an important part of the examination.
Finally, each bird was banded and gently released back into the wild at the original point of capture to avoid confusion. Everything was geared to gentle, precise and respectful handling of the birds. The students were quick learners and did a good job with their assigned tasks. I have included a number of images of the entire process.
I will be soon be posting narrative and a series of photos addressing our project of siting and installing 30 remote trail cameras to capture images of the big cats transiting the reserve: Jaguar (the apex predator of Central and South America, and the third largest cat in the world after the tiger and lion), Puma and Ocelot. Stay tuned for that post.