Category Archives: Birds

Bioacoustics and Bird Team

Bioacoustics focuses in the recording of species, no matter whether it’s terrestrial or aerial.

The Bioacoustics and Birds Team uses a software called Raven Pro Software to check the highs and lows of the recordings. It keeps the awareness of the sound to be below 12 gain.


In bioacoustics is important to have quality audio equipment to have an optimal sound recording of the animals.

  1. Parabolic Dish (Telinga Pro Universal ME)
  2. Long shotgun Microphone (Sennheiser ME67)/Windshield (Rycote Softie)
  3. Omnidirectional Microphone Capsule (Sennheiser ME62)
  4. Headphones (Sony MDR-7506)
  5. Digital Audio Recorder (Marantz PMD 661 MKII)

Setting Up:


  1. Set up the digital recorder by turning it on.
  2. Once it’s powered on, proceed to insert the headphones in the “phones”  plug of the recorder.
  3. Next, grab an omnidirectional microphone and insert it inside the parabolic dish. Check that the microphone is not fully inserted, thus there need to be a space between the surface and the microphone (quarter of finger)
  4. Proceed to connect the parabolic dish in the digital recorder in the mono setting.
  5. Press the “Rec” button for a test check.
  6. Once everything is settled, it is ready to record data!



  1. Target a sound and listen for a bit to find the area where its sound is the strongest
  2. Recommended to take safety recordings.
  3. Begin approach while still recording
  4. Mind the gain. Make sure it’s not above 12 gain, if so, turn down.
  5. Once the recording is finished, begin closing statement by naming the species (if identified), date and time of day, location, habitat description, and the distance to the animal.


-Silvanna Najri and Kseniya Kotova



2016 Bird Team

Think of the lush rainforest. How high can you gaze? Can you see past the dense foliage? Can you see even a glimpse of blue? We know they are there, but we can’t always see them flitting about above the canopy. What are we talking about? Birds. When you think of birds in the Costa Rican rainforest, what is the first species that come to mind? Parrots? Toucans? Do you think of the Chestnut-sided Warbler or the Louisiana Warbler? These are some of the species captured and banded in Costa Rica to the previous bird team’s surprise. 

Anna Lees ’16 and Kammer Tyson ’16 are proud members of the 2016 Bird Team. We will be catching, cataloging, and tracking flight patterns of Neotropical and migratory birds. To do this, we will set up a study plot and multiple mist nets. Mist nets are commonly used by biologists and ornithologists to catch flying creatures. Unlike the years before, we will be attempting to obtain and record more data on hummingbird species. When trapping birds, we will do our best to ensure safe handling techniques are used and the birds are kept calm and returned to the location where they were caught. All specimens obtained will be cataloged and released. In addition, migratory birds will be banded to allow us to see migration patterns in future years. We hope, with our continuing partnership with Cornell University, we can positively impact avian research in Costa Rica and beyond.

Leaving in Three Days!

For the bird team to conduct the research properly and efficiently, we bring 18-20 poles and around 20 nets. Each net is attached to the poles the nets span a length of around 11 meters or 36 feet. The pole length is 2.43 meters or eight feet. The process for setting up the net takes two or three people; one person holds the net inside of a plastic bag, so that the net does not get human scent. This is so any birds flying through the area do not smell the nets and go around. Meanwhile another person is unraveling the net. This is a critical stage in the setup, if the net touches the ground; all of the debris has to be removed and is just time consuming. Once the net has been outstretched it is attached to the other pole via loops, the netting has to be taught so that birds do not get injured. There are four loops per each side of the net, three white and one black. The white loops have to go above the lock while the black loop goes below the lock. The locking mechanism is designed so that the pols won’t slide down once propped up; to collapse the poles, the lock has to be squeezed at the top of the pole. To extend the poles they have to be razed to the desired height or add another pole to the pre-existing pole. This is all to catch different types of flying birds i.e. low flying versus high flying birds. To actually catch the birds there has to be some excess netting at the bottom to create pocket for the birds to fall into. Once the poles and netting have been set up the Bird Team will use a small hammer to anchor the poles into place. The Bird Team expects to have technical difficulties, however have the means to fix and make most repairs to netting. To disassemble the net, the poles locks are compressed allowing the poles to be broken down. To put the nets away, each net must be spun to make them into more rope-like and manageable. To pack the net, hold onto the pole and grabbing an arms length of the net with the other, pull the net keeping it tight. It is important to not tangle the net during this process.

After the bird is caught, the Bird Team then takes them out of the net carefully, while making sure the bird remains calm. After the bird is taken out of the net, we carefully put them into bird bags. The bird bags are small and the bird will be able to breathe safely. The Bird Team then uses The Birds of Costa Rica: a Field Guide by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean field guide to help identify what kind of bird it is. From there, the Bird Team will mark where on the map the bird was found. This may help to identify any patterns that may occur.

Next, the Bird Team examines the bird. Weight, height, gender, and wingspan, are all taken note of. The weight is measured using scales. There are many different kinds of scales that can be used to do this. Wing chord is measured using calipers. Once the wing chord is measured, the age can then be determined. If the bird is a migratory bird, it gets banded. If the bird already has been banded, the Ornithologist’s attempt to recover data on that bird.


-10-20 net poles

-1 net per 2 poles

-Net bags

-Bird bags

The Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean and Training Manual for Field Biologist in Papua New Guinea by Andrew L. Mack and Debra D. Wright

– Records from previous year

– Scales


-Pen for markings

-Duct tape

Thank You Patagonia!

Thanks to you we have great gear!

From early mornings with the bird team to late nights with the Reptiles & Amphibians team, we will be trapping, recording, and doing research in the driest and warmest possible way.

We’re Getting Ready!

Recently the bird team has been working diligently to study and analyze the bird species of Costa Rica. We have also been studying conservation laws to educate and prepare us for our procedures and any conflicts we may encounter. In more exciting news, we got our gear from Patagonia and we also got new bird guides. The new bird books help us identify the bird as well as where they can be found in Costa Rica. In addition to learning about different bird species, we have been learning how to set up and take down bird nets. We are very excited to be going to Costa Rica in 26 Days!

Tori Juster and Will Spangler (Bird Team 2015)

Bird Team of 2014-2015

The 2014-2015 Bird Team is Tori Juster and Will Spangler. We will be studying and cataloging the avian population as well as neotropical migration. Our purpose is to see what species are in the reserve as well as if the new migrant birds are having an impact on the already established bird population. We will set nets in the study area and all the trapped birds will be cataloged – all the nonnative species will be banded and set on their way. Since birds are such a huge part of any environment the study and cataloging is crucial to trying to maintain and continued conservation of the environment. Some of the species of birds that we will be interacting with are Hummingbirds Toucans and Scarlet Tanagers. We hope that our partnership with Cornell University will continue to be fruitful.

Bird Team Introduction

Recently we have been working on our paper, and learning to set up and take down the nets. It’s not as easy as it looks!!! We are also working hard to memorize the 25 most common birds that we usually catch while down in the Costa Rica. We are also working to memorize the Hummingbirds for the project that was created last year with them. In this project we set up about six bird feeders all with different percentages of sugar in the water. We then sit and watch for birds and calculate how many males and females go to which feeders to figure out which consistency of sugar the Hummingbirds like the best. We have meet with our team leader Frank Gallo, and he has been teaching us the methods we need to use while down in the rainforest. He says it get cold down there! Can you believe that! The rainforest in Costa Rica gets cold at night! We are hoping, because it is dry season, that we won’t be rained out like last year. Wendy Welshans has also been working hard to get us prepared for the big trip, meeting every other day in class and also on tuesday nights. In some of the lectures we are learning about some of the tropical plants and arthropods and their secondary defense, so if you touch them or eat them, they could really harm you. It’s really scary, but it helps us be alert down there, so we are more careful about what we touch. We will keep keep our blog updated so don’t forget to keep checking in, and feel free to leave us comments about questions you have and to wish us luck!
Jenny, Melissa, and Allie!
2014 Bird Team

The 2013- 2014 Bird Team

This year’s Bird Team, Melissa, Allie, and Jenny, have been working diligently to help further the research that has already been done on the Bird Team in previous years. Birds are an essential part of the ecosystem. We focus on three main types of birds: migratory, local, and hummingbirds. We look at the population size of the migratory birds in Costa Rica because the consequences of deforestation not only affect the birds in Costa Rica, but also in the United States. By banding birds, we are able to see the migration patterns over the years. The local birds in Costa Rica are heavily affected by deforestation. Since they are not migratory, if their habitats are destroyed, they will have no place to live. The 2014 Bird Team will also be continuing on with the research from the Hummingbird Project that was started last year. This year we will be working alongside the Bioacoustics Team to help identify and record new bird calls that will be added into the Macaulay Library that is produced by Cornell University, with whom we have a partnership.

2013-2014 Bird Team (Jenny Marcus, Melissa Lipset, Allie Meeker)

2013-2014 Bird Team (Jenny Marcus, Melissa Lipset, Allie Meeker)

Bird Team Finds Wood Thrush Banded in 2011!

Other Bird Team Tweets:

– Tied record for catching 8 migrants
– Caught Philadelphia vireo
–  Caught 4 migrants
–  Spotted rare sungrebe & green ibis
– Caught a chestnut-sided warbler
–  Spotted keel-billed toucan

Bird Team

The study of birds is a vital part of the Rain Forest project. As more and more species are discovered each year, the effort to record bird species has continued. Our job as the Bird team is to document the multitude of species the Rain Forest has to offer; according the most recent survey, over 900 species exist in Costa Rica. We will be classifying different types of birds and their corresponding calls. With four team members, as opposed to two in previous years, we will be able to cover a greater area of the Rain Forest, which gives us a greater possibility of discovering a new species. We will be observing, catching, and listening to the birds. Some examples of birds we will be researching are Toucans, Scarlet Tanagers, and Hummingbirds. We hope, in partnership with Cornell University, to positively contribute to the study of birds and the further advancement of bird research in the future.

Team Members:

From left: Dimitri Habib, Abraham Friedman, Kyle Farrell, and Paige Fischer