I have been maintaining a bird banding station in Zuma Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains since the spring of 1995. Our banding cycle is approximately every two weeks, with some adjustments in the schedule to accommodate our other commitments. The objectives of this station is not only to learn about the bird species in the Santa Monica Mountains but also to train our students in the techniques of bird banding. Thus, bird watching experience is helpful but not necessary. Even though most of our present "help" consists of our present and former SMC students, almost everyone is welcome to participate. We do have some limit in the number of participants on any give day and have not had to enforce this policy to some extent. There is an minimum age limit (not stated) as children often do not have the manual dexterity and patience to remove a bird seemingly hopelessly tangled in a net. Physical fitness is helpful, as there is often quite a bit of walking to the nets and back to the parking lot where we do the actual banding.
We have 10-20 (semi-)permanent net lanes that we use and maintain. As of 2008, we have changed our banding protocol. We will no longer band on Friday afternoons. Banding will be on Saturday only from sunrise for six hours. Since sunrise changes with the seasons, the exact starting times vary. One can get the sunrise/sunset times for your area by going to the Naval Oceanography Portal. There are a variety of weather portals. Weather predictions have become fairly accurate over the years. The only caveat I have is that it can be pouring rain at "home" but dry in Zuma Canyon. In general, I have gotten away from phones & voicemail, and use the internet to communicate banding information. I check my email regularly (firstname.lastname@example.org; DanauSakai@aol.com). It is also important to email me and check in as we sometimes reserve certain dates for "class only," and schedules may change.
We have only one general rule, which is that you arrive at the beginning of the day's activities, when we open nets. Actually, you should arrive 10-15 minutes early to help set up the banding station & receive last minute instructions. You will also stay until the end of the day's activities, after we close nets and have packed up before heading home.
Tentative Spring into Summer Schedule
All of these dates are subject to change, especially dates further into the future. Make sure you are on the mailing list. The announcement for the upcoming cycle comes on the Sunday (usually) before the next banding cycle. In general, we band about every two weeks, tweaking the schedule to accommodate holidays and other commitments.
April 25 - we are hoping to conduct our biannual Burns Reserve (high desert) banding.
Jul 05 - Fourth of July Butterfly Count
There will be intermittent trips up into the Angeles Crest in the evenings to
try to catch and band small owls (Western Screech-Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Flammulated Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl). If interested, contact me.
Well, the Station Fire has wiped out this study area. We have been going
up into the Angeles National Forest to band owls via Sunland and Tujunga Canyon
and working the upper reaches where the fire did not touch.
Well (again), it seems portions of the Angeles Crest are open again. The small owl monitoring is slowly getting back in gear. We hope to arrange a summer trip or two.
Walter H. Sakai, Master Bander Permit No. 22030
Jim Serikawa, Subpermitee - contact at
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Last Updated on 25 March 2015 by Walter H. Sakai