So I didn't do anything bird related last weekend... I know. It's shocking. So I thought I would describe how I catch Loggerhead Shrikes.
First, AND MOST IMPORTANT, we acquire all the appropriate permits. Trapping any wildlife without the appropriate permits and training is highly illegal. (Not to mention, harmful to the critter.)
Then, we drive around areas where there have been reports of folks seeing Loggerhead Shrikes, like agricultural areas in Laurens County, Georgia.
Once we see a shrike, we get the trap ready, drive slowly up to the shrike and set the trap on the ground.
The trap is a large cage with a smaller cage inside. The small cage has a white mouse inside for bait (Don't worry, the small cage prevents the shrike from touching the mouse). The door to the big cage is held open by a wire that is attached to a lever that the shrike lands on when it enters the big cage. Once the shrike hits the lever, the wire moves out from under the door and the shrike is trapped inside.
Once the Shrike is caught, we first place a metal US Fish and Wildlife Service band on its leg and sometime we place color bands on its leg in order to identify it later.
We 'process' the bird by taking measurements on bill, wing, and tail feather dimensions.
We age and sex the bird and then we try to get a sense of its nutritional condition by looking at its fat between its furcula (fused clavicle), which is also know as the 'wishbone.'
Next we weigh the bird.
Then we let it go!
So why do we put the bird through all this torture? Well, this information is sent to a larger database at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, and with this data we can begin to understand the population dynamics of this species. Considering their species is declining and we don't know why, this is valuable information.