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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Research in the forest





By Stephan Beekhuis
Research in the forest
MOSI is a project which studies, and registers the captures of particular migratory birds that migrate from North America to the Laguna de Apoyo, but also resident species.
“The objective of our research is to characterize the bird community in particular area over many years. Some birds are of particular importance in this study, notably species with conservation issues. Some populations are terribly small. We don’t know the conservation status of each species, but with this research we can improve our knowledge and future conservation efforts”, states  Dr. Jeffrey McCrary, director of Estación Biológica.

On March 14th, the volunteers of the Estacion Biologica packed up their backpacks for three days of camping to catch birds, bats, and rodents, as part of the MOSI monitoring effort.
birdwatching Nicaragua

Bats
It quickly becomes apparent that the ambiance in this largely-undeveloped part of the Laguna is very calm and peaceful; a good area to catch animals. At 6 o’clock in the evening two volunteers prepare the mist nets. Mist nets are typically made of nylon mesh suspended between two poles, resembling an oversized volleyball net. When properly deployed, the nets are virtually invisible.  A short while after, a Jamaican fruit bat (Artibeus jamaicensis) flies into the net. After getting the bat out of the net. the volunteers take measurements of various characteristics of the bat—weight, sex, wingspan—before snapping a photo and releasing it into the night.

Birds
After a night in the woods, which was uncomfortable with all the mosquito bites… The next morning at six o’clock the nets are up and ready for the first birds of the day. Every hour the volunteers check the nets. After the first hour they’ve caught two species: a Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis) and a Clay-colored Trush (Turdus grayi). They subsequently weigh the bird, take around 15 measurements, and clip the tip of a non-essential feather so they’ll know if they recapture the same bird later.
An hour later they catch another three birds: a Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuteris rufifrons), a Blue-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanura) and another Long-tailed Manakin. We could tell by a short tail-feather that it was the same Long-tailed Manakin as earlier, demonstrating why marking the birds in some way is important to keeping the statistics accurate.
birdwatching Nicaragua

birdwatching Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua

nature photography Nicaragua

Painted Bunting birdwatching Nicaragua

birds Nicaragua

Apoyo Spanish School Nicaragua
Besides catching birds the volunteers also count them by listening and watching. This is necessary because many species prefer to fly higher or have better eyesight and are more difficult to capture in the mist nets as a result.

bird research Nicaragua

biodiversity research Nicaragua

birdwatching Nicaragua
The three-day trip was productive and after cleaning everything up, packing our backs, we head back to Estacion Biologica.  The volunteers will be returning next month  to do it all again.
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