Bird Banding at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Today, June 23 of 2022 has been an amazing day. It started at 5 am driving from my job housing to the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont across the park, driving for an hour and a half. The reason for my drive was to attend a bird banding session in the morning. The way they operated is the following, three set up areas containing 3-4 mists nets for a total of 12.nets. They’d start at 7 am and ended at 12:30 pm. The researcher performing the banding is Erin Canter, a bird banding expert in Tremont. According to Erins previous weeks of banding, it was a slow day, I still thought it was a good day for bird banding, especially since we were able to band around 7 birds. Here’s a list of the bird species and the amount we banded for each one:

  1. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) – 4
  2. Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) – 1
  3. Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) – 2

First bird of the day, a Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush in photographers grip
A Wood Thrush and a Carolina Wren in a mist net

A Wood Thrush entangled in a mist net

Handling a Carolina Wren
Although the bird looks anxious, the darkness in the bag helps relax her while in transport
Wood Thrush flight feathers being inspected for wear and measurements
Nothing beats seeing a bird take flight from your hands

I am as happy and grateful as I can with this experience. Although I had completed bird banding and mist nets in my training at the Rockies, nothing compares to actually untangling the birds from the nets, banding them, taking data, and finally releasing them into the wild. My shadow mentor, Erin Canter, was an exceptional guide in teaching me the step-by-step process of bird banding and how we can protect our birds. Hopefully, I’ll be completing another bird banding date at Tremont in July, it truly has been one of the most memorable days in the Fish and Feathers Intern. And to finish it all off, after a hot and sweaty day of bird banding, I took a small hike and bathed in the Spruce Flats Falls. What a day!

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking,

because her trust is not on the branch but on its wings”


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