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January 8, 2011 / stephanie

Ecuador Adventures 4: Banding at La Casita

Field Crew at La Casita (L to R: Matt, Will, Larry, Dusti, me)

Day 5. Now that the mist nets were up and ready to go, we were all set to band some Ecuadorian birds. Again, we rose before dawn, had breakfast and then marched into the woods. Our first day of banding yielded 56 captures and 26 species, with the most common species being the Baron’s Hermit (a type of Hummingbird) and the Thrush-like Schiffornis (a type of Manakin).

Pascual measures a bird's tarsus (foot bone) while Larry records data

We had perfect weather for the first two days. Still plenty of mud but we were hoping that maybe with enough sun and less rain, the mud would dry. (Some foreshadowing: this never happened…)

Thrush-like Schiffornis

Baron's Hermit

The second day of banding at La Casita, the numbers were significantly lower, with only 20 captures and 13 species. Apparently, the birds learned where the nets were and were skillfully avoiding them. But, we still netted a couple of new species and I also got the chance to take some more photos.

I think one of the best things about bird banding is that you get to see birds that you might not otherwise know were there and see the little details that you can’t catch with binoculars. What keeps me coming back to banding is the astounding array of diversity. The following birds aren’t the most colorful birds, but they all have very uniquely adapted traits that make them quite stunning in their own way! I hope you appreciate them too.

Plain Xenops

Gray-breasted Wood-wren

Bananaquit

Yellow-throated Bush-tanager

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant

Black-headed Antthrush

After two days of banding, we prepared for the next phase of the adventure. Mist nets were removed, packed into plastic bags, and then lugged up to the top of the hill to our “ridge” banding site. The trails were steep and slippery and I wasn’t looking forward to walking them the next day before dawn. We had some struggles, but Matt and I completed our task (with some help from Dusti) of setting up 10 nets before darkness started setting in near 5:30pm. We all had hot showers (a bucket of warm water heated up on the stove) and a hot meal (more rice and veggies) before settling into our tents around 9:00. Not long after that, the rain came, and it poured down hard, and it would be a nightly tradition from then on. And after all, we were in the rainforest, so what else could we expect?
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