A group of visitors gathered early on Sunday, May 7, under the pavilion at Four Seasons Nature Preserve in Lake Geneva. Some arrived by 8 AM, but Wildlife Service Biologist Sarah Inyoue was there by 6:30 to set up the mist nets that would gently capture any birds moving through.

mist net for capturing birds to be banded

close up of a mist net for bird banding

bird in a cloth bag, ready to be bandedWalk down the path toward the net, and you can barely tell it’s there, which is exactly the purpose — birds cannot easily see it either. They become entangled in the fine mesh netting. The birds are carefully untangled and placed into soft cloth bags to be brought up to the measuring station.

banding a yellow warblerSarah recorded measurements about each bird, including its species, sex and age, weight, and the length of it’s wings. After information is recorded, the bird is banded with a metal tag. Bird banding is one of the oldest and most important techniques used for studying and identifying birds. 

recording station for bird banding

giving a bird a drop of water while bird bandingSarah pays close attention to the behavior of the captured birds. This goldfinch seemed stressed, so she gave it a drop or two of water before releasing it.

blowing feathers to view fat content while bird banding

Sarah gently blows on the bird’s feathers. She can see if there are fat reserves, and log this detail of information. 

The World Migratory Bird Day Events continued at Lost Valley Visitor Center, with a presentation by Stephanie Schmidt on Cranes. Stephanie is the Whooping Crane Outreach Coordinator for the International Crane Foundation. She presented information on Whooping Cranes as well as Sandhill Cranes.

making a sandhill crane craftThe day continued with family activities from Noon to 4 PM inside Lost Valley Visitor Center and on the back patio.

 

Participants played games and learned about birds, earning points for all activities completed. Those that completed 14 events earned a plush, chirping bird.

kids at migratory bird dayThese visitors enjoyed scooping up water fresh from the pond at Lost Valley, then viewing the tiny invertebrates that are gobbled up by birds like ducks and geese.

Other activities included “Fill The Bill”, where visitors explored using different tools to see how birds use their specialized beaks to eat their favorite foods, a migratory ring toss game, “Jeop-bird-y”(a take-off from TV’s Jeopardy game), and itty-bitty bird walks through the forested grounds of Glacial Park.

 

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