At 5:30 AM, we went behind on of the apartments to observe the hummingbird project. Hummingbirds are caught, measured, tagged, and released to get an idea of the biodiversity. I think that some of the data might also be used for phenology. This is part of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network. We were working with Sarah and Adam Hadley. They have some great photos and information on their blog. For example, I just learned that "Rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) are declining at a rate of nearly 3% per year." The Hadley's also work with hummingbirds in Costa Rica.
The tiny hummingbirds are put into a net bag like this and lined up in the order that they have been captured.
Sarah takes measurements of the birds including length, feather length and condition, weight, gender, the amount of fat they are storing in a pocket near their neck, and whether or not they are carrying eggs.
Between 6:30 AM and 5 PM, we did our work on Bunchgrass Ridge. Today was our first day of actual data collection on Bunchgrass Ridge. I'm finding myself getting more comfortable with the plant ID. In fact, now that I am home fore the weekend, I have been able to walk around my yard and notice some of the diversity of weedy-looking plants that I have growing here. I will describe the field protocols in more detail later, but here is a brief overview:
Within the quadrat, we identify what species are present and measure the percent cover that each species represents within that 1 m X 1 m square.
My partners and I were able to get through 3 transects with 4 quadrats each. Eventually, each person should be able to get through about 16 quadrats by themselves per day. It was about 8 hours of standing in the sun counting plants. Charlie has been telling us to take it easy if we find ourselves beginning to get exhausted. The data is no good if we our tired and not paying attention to detail.
Mist Netting for Birds
From 5-7 PM, we went out to mist net for birds. This was similar to the hummingbird project. The birds are collected, banded, measured and released. Their poop is also collected to see what the birds have been eating.
A mist net is placed in a corridor between the trees. One researcher sits in the bushes and plays recordings of the territorial songs of the different birds that may be in that area. When the real birds come down to defend their territory, they become tangled in the mist net.
With a little prompting, this junco eventually flew away.
At the end of this long day, I was able to enjoy some leftover lasagna and homemade pizza with the people from my bunchgrass team and my roommates from the team studying pollinators. Fruit and barbeque sauce pizza stood out to me, but the sweetened condensed milk pizza was my favorite.