Monitoring Wild Birds

Saw my first migrating SPOTTED SANDPIPER on the 12th
Saw a Yellow Warbler on the 13th

On August 8th, I found a Red-eyed Vireo in the trees over Diablo Creek.  I thought that seemed early for a migrant and went on line to find some information. Unfortunately, I found and read this:

http://si-pddr.si.edu/jspui/bitstream/10088/9811/1/11f87825-aa3e-4c7f-a298-c3408c13cbe3.pdf

I realize this 'study' was done in 1970, but how much of this type of stuff still goes on?  I tried to find some information along those lines, but could only get that some specimen collecting is still done.  There is a debate within the 'scientific' community in regards to 'taking' birds. Love that euphemism.

During my walks the last few days, I ranted internally about the deed and the approval by the Smithsonian to allow it. I found myself resentful and mistrustful of many aspects of the scientific community's treatment of birds in their studies. Supposedly, mist nets and banding birds replaces the shotgun and collection method, and that's an improvement, but how much of that is really necessary? How much of it causes undue harm to birds. All I got was rose-colored glasses reports about what a small percentage of birds get harmed in the process. The fact that they are mist netted during migration, and the possible harm that might cause is not really discussed.  In one book I have, the author says that swallows that reach the Netherland Antilles are sometimes so exhausted they don't have the energy to forage and they expire.  That is an extreme example, but dammit, anybody with an ounce of common sense can figure out that migration is hard work and tiring.  The last thing a bird needs is a stressful encounter with humans who think they are doing things the right way.  How many times in history have we thought a method was good, only to find we were very much mistaken. 

In my wandering of the web, I have come across text and images that really upset me and I don't buy the bit that banding is all for the good. I have to question the motives of much of this. Don't even get me going on the radio/gps contraptions glued onto the backs of birds. MONSTROUS!!!

Last night, in the wee insomniacal hours, I went to BirdForum to browse and noticed that someone had posted a post asking if all that ringing (banding in UK speak) is really necessary. Still incensed by the Vireo read, and inflamed even farther by recent unpleasant banding images and text,  I vented. I probably went a little over the top when I said ALL banding/tagging and gluing on of contraptions (won't budge an inch on that one!), should be outlawed.  Should have just suggested putting on the brakes and re-assessing.

I am not formally taught or trained in the study of birds or any of the wild stuff I love to spend my time observing. As a naturalist, I do a lot of independent study to learn about birds and things I see. I believe we should approach nature with a gentle and hands off mentality.  There are now over 7 billion homo-sapiens on the planet. Surely, a few billion could help monitor the natural world in their immediate environments. Haven't we banded enough to understand patterns? If not, then can't we at least limit the amount of physical contact we have with nature?

A case to show that we don't always know best:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/penguins-bands-research-110113.html

.85 inches rain 24 hour period 9:00a.m. yesterday to today.

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