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Group bands birds along Caddo Lake to track their lives

By Hannah DeClerk hdeclerk@marshallnewsmessenger.com
Jan. 22, 2011 at 8:49 p.m.


People may begin to notice a "trend" among area birds as they sport tiny silver ankle bracelets.

But before one thinks birds are becoming fashion forward, no worries. It is for scientific purposes only.

Known as "bird banding," the practice has been done for several years with the intention of keeping track of birds for multiple ecological reasons.

 Jim Ingold, professor of biology at LSU-Shreveport, hosted the bird banding at Caddo Lake Saturday for the general public.

Ingold explained the birds are captured in nets that are invisible to the birds, then placed into socks where they will have tiny, numbered aluminum bracelets placed around their ankles.

"We put bands on the bird's legs with unique numbers," he said. "It is like the birds having a Social Security number."

After being banded, the birds are placed upside down in a large medicine bottle where they are measured, weighed, examined, and then set free.

The nets, 12 in total, were strategically placed around a piece of land,  re-capturing some birds from previous years.

"I like to look for the winter birds coming back to the same spot year after year, and we also like to track their life span," said Ingold.

Ingold explained he has been hosting the banding activity on the property since 1996 and he has been bird banding since the 70s.

"We have continued to come back year after year," he explained. "And we get various types of birds depending on the season."

The property, off Highway 43 North just past Caddo Lake State Park, attracts several species of birds such as canaries, finches, sparrows, hummingbirds and wood peckers.

"We use different size bands for each type of bird so they will not fall over," said Ingold.

He also reiterated that bird banding is not harmful to the birds, and compared it to "wearing a band aid."

"You know it is there, but it does not affect your day to day activities," he said.

In fact, Ingold said, the art of tracking birds is important for the safety of the environment.

"For example, the West Nile disease," he explained, "The birds were  the first to reveal critical environmental problems because they are the first to be affected."

He added in order to perform the actual of banding, a federal and state permit is required.

Liz Hendrix, nursing instructor at Louisiana Technical College-Monroe, said she started participating in bird banding about a year ago after reading about it in the paper.

"It is a great way for me to meet different people with different backgrounds," said Ms. Hendrix.

She said she also sees the activity as "relaxing and fun."

"I like being out here in nature, up close to the birds, and see things you could never see on your own," she said.

For more information on Caddo Lake bird banding go to <a href= "http://caddobirds.com/bird_banding.htm">http://caddobirds.com/bird_banding.htm</a>

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