birding

The Flying Fish took a long drive down to the Coyote Creek Field Station in Milpitas to visit with ornithologists and learn about how these scientists band birds for research.

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We walked along some unseen trails into the trees and saw the tall nets that the ornithologists use to catch birds.

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They only keep the nets up for five hours a day – from sunset to before noon.

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We were lucky enough to witness a bird caught in one of the soft, almost-invisible nets and watched as Josh, our guide, carefully disentangled the yellowthroat from the net.

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We felt the gentleness of the net and were assured that the birds came to no harm when caught.

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We walked back to the birding station for a little research!

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And a snack.

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The ornithologists didn’t put on a song and dance to keep the kids’ attention and didn’t dumb down the material.  Instead, they spoke to this group of six- and seven-year-olds with the same informative sincerity that they would talk to any group of adults.

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We learned that this yellowthroat had been banded when she had just hatched and had now returned to the same woods she was born in to lay her first brood.

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The Fish gave their rapt attention and insightful questions.  The ornithologists were charmed by their enthusiasm really impressed by their curiosity and respectfulness.

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Josh blew on the downy breast feathers to show us the brood patch, a patch of bare skin used to warm the eggs, and the fat stores she would use in creating the egg.

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We learned about the tracking system that the ornithologists use to track the birds, their ages, weights, sex, migration, and breeding habits.

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And when the data had been collected and the bird had been looked at, we watched as they fluttered back into the woods in triumph, thinking they’d escaped capture. It was a beautiful sight!

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