It’s hard to believe fall migration is already underway, when we’ve just completed our breeding season samplings for the avian flu study and sent them off to the folks at UCLA for analysis.
RRBO is part of LaMNA : Landbird Monitoring Network of the Americas, and we are taking part in a four-year study to collect fecal and DNA samples for the analysis of avian influenza and other viruses.
Birds caught for banding are gently swabbed to collect fecal samples, and and two tail feathers are collected for DNA samples. No, pulling tail feathers does not hurt the bird – birds will often drop tail feathers to surprise a predator, and lost feathers are rapidly replaced.
Think of it as a trip to the doctor – sometimes it’s a bit unpleasant, but it’s for your own good. The studies that are conducted through banding birds are the same. They are for the bird’s own good, and ultimately, for ours.
Avian influenza, or H5N1, and any of the other 143 known sub-types of influenza A found in bird populations (including landbirds) could markedly affect the management and conservation of avian populations for years to come. It is prudent that we collect the data and study these viruses in depth now, before H5N1 is found in the United States.
We want to keep our birds, and us, healthy!