Research Techniques

Mist-netting and Banding

Our field teams employ a variety of field techniques in order to identify and monitor birds in the wild. One of these techniques is mist-netting and banding. The capture of birds in the wild provides biologists insight into the health and demographics of the populations of birds being studied.

Birds are captured by erecting “invisible” mist-nets in the forest. When the birds get caught, either passively or attracting them using playback of their calls, they are extracted and banded quickly and efficiently.

Individuals are each fitted with an aluminum band with a unique numerical combination issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Data is collected on the bird's health, reproductive status, age and morphological measurements. From this information we are able to monitor population changes and individual fitness. These bands have been developed to fit around the birds' leg like a solid bracelet and do not affect the birds' lives or mobility in any way after they are released.

Key species are also fitted with an individual combination of three colored plastic bands. Color-banding individuals allow field identification and survival estimates for individuals without recapturing them and can enhance territory mapping efficiency, the ability to find nests and basic life history information. This is of particular importance in small populations so that we can estimate population size and reproductive success of individual pairs.

Nest and Fledgling Searching

Determining the reproductive success for endangered forest birds is central in our management strategies. We need to know how these bird populations are doing in the wild and what the limiting factors are so that we can manage to increase their success and survival. We spend much of the breeding season searching for nests and then watching them through the incubation, brooding and fledging periods. For example, each breeding season we try to determine the proportion of Maui Parrotbill pairs that produce a juvenile.

 Here is a view of the native forest where these birds are found:

Boardwalk - The Nature Conservancy's Waikamoi Preserve (closed to the public) by Mark_Kimura_PhD on Photosynth