The Florida Water Management District needs assistance in identifying what birds’ species are using the preserve during the winter. “In the summer, birds perch and sing, so you can easily identify what birds [there are], but in the winter the birds rarely perch," explained Marianne Korosy, PhD. She is the Florida Important Bird Area Coordinator at National Audubon Society.
“It [the Sparrow Drive] helps WMD understand [how] to manage their lands for biodiversity, but provides a local opportunity for people to see the range of birds that live in these places near their home,” Korosy said.
Nets are set up in a specific area, zoned by the coordinator. These nets are used to trap the sparrows while the flushing is being conducted. Flushing is when a line of people as well as experienced members walk toward the net while making loud noises. That process startles the birds and they are herded into the net by the line of people. Once a bird is in the net, an experienced member immediately removes the bird safely from net and places the bird in a cloth bag. The bird is then removed by an experienced handler and is logged and banded, if not already banded. Once the banding and logging has been completed the bird is gently released.
“I have been a bird bander for thirty-five years and I don’t get to do much anymore so I take as many chances as I can to help out others during projects,” said Tony Leukering of Largo, Florida.
Sparrows migrating to the Weeki Wachee preserve are from the northern USA and southern Canada. Remarkably, some sparrows that were captured and banded last year are re-caught, in addition to birds that have been banded by other teams.
Henslow’s to Swamp Sparrows, Korosy describes which bird has been logged as well as descriptive details. She allows photographers to get some great close up photos of these little beauties before they are released.
Bird enthusiasts from all over Florida have volunteered in this event. If you enjoy wildlife and the outdoors, there is an another opportunity to participate in the sparrow drive on Saturday February 6.
“This is a great activity for young children and families,” Korosy said.
For more information please visit http://www.hernandoaudubon.org/Sparrow.html