It has been said that bird banding is at once both a delicate art and a precise science. Bird banding is a method of bird monitoring to track bird populations and demographic trends (characteristics of the population) over time. First, a bird is gently caught in a soft, fine net called a mist net. After being carefully removed by a biologist, a small aluminum band is placed around the bird’s leg like a bracelet. Engraved on the band is a unique number which will allow biologists to track the bird if it is recaptured. Next, data (e.g., age, sex, fat, feather molt, weight) about the bird are collected. Finally, the bird is released near where it was caught and continues its daily activities.
Bird banding allows scientists to answer questions about bird populations. These questions can then inform land management practices to aid in effective bird and habitat conservation. For example, bird banding data tell us if birds successfully breed in an area—an indication of a healthy habitat. Banding data also tell us if birds are surviving migration, information that informs international conservation efforts.