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