Asks the public to be careful of bird mist nets

To the Editor:

With the arrival with warmer spring weather, birds are migrating through Fairfield and stopping to rest and feed at Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary on Unquowa Road.

There, they find a safe place to rest and feed. Some of you might not know about Connecticut Audubon Society (CAS) Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary.  There has been a federally licensed bird banding station, monitoring migration at Birdcraft sanctuary since the 1970s.

The bird banders use mist nets to capture, band, take scientific data and release the birds unharmed. The nets are 40 feet long and invisible to the birds when in use. The nets cost about $70 each and are furled when not in use so as not to catch any birds when we are not bird banding. If birds were caught and we were not there, the birds would die as they cannot extricate themselves alone.

We learn a lot about birds and the state of our environment through this research. Bird banders all over the country are doing the same research.  Their results are collated at a national bird banding laboratory outside of Washington, D.C., and trends start to appear. Clearly there aren’t nearly as many birds as when the station started to research them in the 1970s. It doesn’t bode well for our future and that of birds unless we can stem then tide of climate change, which most researchers believe, is the major problem.

Habitat loss is another problem for birds, especially the migrant species that we band. CAS provides needed habitat for birds all over Connecticut with its many sanctuaries.  Fairfield residents get to enjoy them as well. Three local Connecticut Audubon Society sanctuaries — The CAS Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary, The CAS Center at Fairfield 2325 Burr St., and The CAS Coastal Center at Milford Point are stand-outs for watching birds, or for just taking a walk in the woods.

The public is welcome to walk at the Birdcraft sanctuary, but please be mindful that there is important research happening there. We occasionally give bird banding demonstrations, which are posted on our website.

Birds are great indicators for the state of our environment. Do you remember the story of the Canary in the mine? Canaries were used in mining to sense the toxicity of the air in mines. If the canary dies, the men wouldn’t enter the mine. The analogy is clear: If the birds go, so do we, only a little later.

Please be respectful of our nets. Thank you.

 

Judy Richardson

Master Bander and Chair

Fairfield Regional Board of Governors

Connecticut Audubon Society

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