|The Idaho Bird Observatory "Banding Shack" on top of Lucky Peak|
For those that enjoy birds and bird science, please consider making a donation to the Idaho Bird Observatory to further their work. Donations can be made online by visiting their website here. Just so readers know, the IBO folks didn't give me a special invitation to visit, nor did they request that I solicit donations in their behalf. I just really enjoy what they do and love the science behind it. Most of the staff are volunteers who are there for the experience. They live in primitive campsites starting in the blazing hot summer until the frigid cold snows them off the mountain. If life circumstances were different, I'd probably live up their with them and donate tons of cash to fund their research. It is like Disneyland for people who love birds!
|Heidi and Jay applying bands to a pair of birds. There are several band sizes which they select according to the species.|
|Several measurements are taken, like wing length and tail feather length.|
|The birds are weighed by being placed into the appropriate size tube.|
|Banders blow on the stomachs of the birds to check for muscle content. See the dark pink? Their skin is almost transparent, so what you are seeing is muscle.|
|They blow on the birds to check fat content too. See that yellowish stuff? That's body fat. Body fat is very important for bird health, especially for those birds that are migrating.|
|They also blow on the skull to help age the bird. Hatch-year birds only have one layer of skull and its somewhat translucent. Older birds have white dots on their skull which shows where one layer of bone attaches to the other.|
|Here is a bird skull. That triangle area is where they check for skull ossification which helps to age the bird.|
For more great blog posts about the Idaho Bird Observatory, please check out the Aspiring Ecologist who recently finished working at the IBO for a time. Also visit Rob's Idaho Perspective. He too has worked at the IBO.