Posted: Nov 04, 2015 10:43 PM GSTUpdated: Nov 04, 2015 11:04 PM GST
SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Scientists working just off the beach on Sullivan's Island are charged with the tough task of learning more about the species of bird migrating through the Lowcountry.
Bird banding is a tedious process but it’s valuable for research. The program started in mid-September and the crew has already banded more than 500 birds in 43 different species.
Tree Swallows were flocking to Station 16 to get a quick snack early Wednesday morning.
“In case you had any doubt that tree swallows feed on Wax Myrtle berries, there is your proof,” said Sarah Diaz, the project leader for the Sullivan’s Island Bird Research Program.
The protected land on Sullivan’s Island is a perfect spot to feed on various berries and insects, which is why it’s an ideal location for a banding station.
“It’s very important for us to have a survey of the migratory bird species that are utilizing this habitat here,” Diaz said.
The crew uses very thin, lightweight nets to safely capture the birds.
“We check the nets once every 15 minutes and to minimize the time that the bird is actually in the net and we process them very quickly,” Diaz said. “We have them in these cloth bags so there is no harm done to the birds.”
Then the crew works together quickly to get the information they need.
“She has measured the wing, she looked at the skull so we take a lot of different measurements and you look at the plumage in this case to see what sex the bird is so did you decide is this a hatcher male,” Diaz said.
The bird then gets weighed.
“Pop him in there for a second like so and it’s 12.3,” said Jennifer McCarthey Tyrrell, a master bander with the Sullivan’s Island Bird Research Program. “They can’t really move. It kind of calms them down.”