The End of an Era

After over 6 years of intensive research and community development work in and around the Yachana Reserve, GVI Amazon is coming to a close. We have finished our final research project (look forward to our Road Effects paper, coming soon!) and are handing over the project to our partner, The Yachana Foundation. They will continue to maintain and monitor the reserve, using it as an hands-on science education center for students -- we're very excited to see what fabulous things this next generation of scientists find! For more detail on GVI Amazon's closure, and our accomplishments over the years, please read on...
GVI Amazon Closure Statement

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's in the Net?

In a tropical rainforest environment, observing birds can prove to be quite difficult. Many species live under the canopy cover in reaches where good light useful for identification in the field can be relatively non-existent. Dusky-throated Antshrikes, Golden-headed Manakins and Great-billed Hermits are just a few of the common species we rarely see out and about in the forest, but we regularly catch them in mistnetting sessions on the Yachana Reserve. Mistnetting understory birds is a fantastic way to study these elusive and seldom-seen members of the faunal community.

This week, we have been mistnetting at a location along Ficus trail. This forest habitat is in close proximity to the road as well as the edge of the reserve, and even though we strike lucky with a few exciting birds every once in a while, this site is quieter than our other mistnetting locations. When birding activity is low, we can entertain ourselves by playing a game of "would you rather...?", or by taking a jungle snooze between checking the nets.

However, one quiet morning of mistnetting on Ficus, we got a big catch. Kyrie, one of our volunteers, curiously got caught in one of the nets. Being probably the biggest animal we've ever caught, I couldn't help but collect our usual array of data on this unusual catch! There are a number physical characteristics and measurements we take before releasing a bird, or in this case, Kyrie.

As I read out the measurements to be taken, Jackie carefully took readings. We weighed her to our best estimate (since our scales max out at 300g). We checked her fat in her rather reduced furcula (in humans, collarbone) - she was rather lean... maybe we should feed her more. Then we measured her wing chord, and her tarsus (equivalent to foot bones), culmen (beak) width at the nostrils, and culmen length. Then it came time for the tail... wait! humans don't have tails! Moving on... now time to put an identification band on her leg. As this was the biggest "leg" I've banded, the process was slightly modified, but don't worry, all caution was taken for consistency. Our measuring tool and banding pliers were a little small, but after some thought, I precisely fashioned a palm leaf band "01L" onto her left leg. With all data collected and only a mildly-stressed Kyrie, she could be released, sporting a snazzy new piece of leafy jewelry. Just another day of bird survey at GVI Amazon!

Jenn Sinasac - GVI Amazon Field Staff