Humans rarely get to do more than admire birds from a distance — watching winged visitors at bird-feeders, observing their behavior through binoculars or listening to their calls in the canopy above. 

One exception to this rule is bird banding — the act of safely catching, measuring and marking birds. Banding provides crucial information about bird species, populations and health. It also allows human participants a rare chance to hold a songbird, measure its intricate wings and even feel its tiny heart thrumming against their palms. 

A volunteer measures a yellow warbler at a Wyoming bird banding station. (Peter Arnold)

Audubon Rockies operates four banding stations in Wyoming. At the stations, researchers and volunteers catch birds in mist nets, determine age and gender and take measurements before affixing them with a tiny leg band. Banding takes place in the summer. 

Cheyenne photographer and bird fan Peter Arnold sits on Audubon Rockies’s board of directors, and has photographed several banding events.  

A Calliope hummingbird — the smallest bird found in the U.S. and a rare visitor to Wyoming — was caught in a mist net of a bird banding station near Centennial. (Peter Arnold)

Sometimes a rare visitor even shows up, such as this Calliope hummingbird. The Calliope is the smallest bird found in the U.S.; the tiny  traveler flies more than 5,000 miles each year from its breeding grounds in northwestern states to Mexico and back again. 

The public is invited to attend bandings. Once measurements are logged and the bird receives its leg band, it is released unharmed.

Once measured and fitted with a small metal band around their legs, banded birds, like this yellow warbler, are released. (Peter Arnold)

​​Do you have a striking photo of summer in Wyoming? Submit high-resolution entries to WyoFile’s Summer Snap Challenge by emailing them to editor@wyofile.com under the subject line “Summer photos.” Be sure to tell us when and where the images were taken. We’ll gather the images and publish our favorites through the summer.

Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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  1. Thank you, Pete Arnold, for great photographs that brings real birds right into our hands. Let’s have more.

  2. Well, this is fun. Those calliopes are beautiful critters, but like all hummingbirds, believe they’re the toughest guy in the valley.

  3. We also noticed Calliope hummingbirds (for the first time, I think) at our house east of Laramie.