Talking Birdy!

Today I finished up the 5th week of my 13 week field season!

For some researchers, parts of their research can only be done a few months out of the year. My research is limited to the late spring and summer, somewhat due to my class schedule and somewhat due tick activity. This data collection period is known as a field season, and it’s what a lot of researchers live for. I know I do!

This week we started our third round of tick collections at our sites and we started catching birds and searching them for ticks!

How do we catch birds?

We use a technique called mist-netting. I want to start off by saying this takes lots of training and bird safety is always our highest priority. Special federal and state permits are required to catch birds this way. Mist-netting is a very common, safe, humane method of sampling birds.

A mist net is a very fine mesh net designed specifically for catching birds. It’s similar to a volleyball net but starts near the ground and is about 7 feet tall. Once the net is set up, it’s almost invisible. Birds will fly into the net, get stuck, and hang out until we come along and carefully take them out.

Once the bird is out of the net, we can collect tons of information! We put some fancy silver bling on the birds leg so we know if this bird is ever caught again.

Part of my project involves checking the birds for ticks. To do this, I gently blow apart the feathers to see the birds skin. If any ticks are found, they will be removed and tested for diseases!

Click here for a video of me performing a tick check on a northern cardinal.**

**Cardinals bite pretty hard (one actually drew blood from me earlier this week), so if you take offense to the word bastard, you may want to mute the video 🙂

We’re up to 2,765 ticks collected!

Thanks for reading! As always, please ask questions!

Megan

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