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.
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.
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.
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