In 2021, we created and opened our own bird banding station at West Gate, Ram Pasture. The bird banding station is focused on the fall migratory songbirds from September through November. Being an island, Nantucket is the perfect fall-out spot for migrating birds. Some of these birds will only stop for 1-3 days, eat and rest then continue their journey south for the winter. These stop over areas are crucial for birds to be able to survive.
Under the supervision of a licensed bander, the safest way to capture these birds is by using mist nets. Each mist net is 12 meters long and 2.6 meters high with 4 pockets for the birds to fall into made out of clear polyester that the birds cannot see while flying. Once caught, a trained bander will safely remove the birds from the net. The bander will then place a Fish & Wildlife metal band on one of the bird’s legs which has a unique code on it used to identify the bird in future recaptures and sightings. Other data that is collected includes age, sex, fat score, body molting score, flight molting score, flight wing wear, wing length, and weight.
By having this bird banding station, we will be able to have records of the species but also their body condition as they move through. This NCF project will be a long-term study for long range comparable data collection. Also, this project will aid in understanding how climate change and other environmental factors affect the avian population traveling through and interacting with our ecosystem.
If you see a bird that is banded, please report the band code and the sighting to: reportband.gov