Even after studying Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows for over three months now, there’s no way for me to tell the difference between males and females–let alone different individuals–just by looking at them.  For that reason, almost all the sparrows on our study plots have unique color bands that help us keep track of who’s who.

With over 15 years of experience, Michelle is a pro among pros when it comes to banding sparrows.  Last week, I shadowed her as she caught and banded a female sparrow in Population A.

There’s a lot of prep work when it comes to sparrow banding, particularly with females.  First, you need to know where the sparrows like to hang out.  With males, a general region is usually sufficient.  Once you play a foreign male song, they’ll rush over to investigate and get trapped in the net.  Females, however, tend to be a bit sneakier.  It helps to know exactly which bunches of sawgrass they prefer.

With the location information in mind, Michelle strategically set up her mist net.  She then played the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow so