As a bird nerd, I’d often look on enviously at photos of biologists posted online holding shorebirds in their “bander’s grip” – the bird’s head in between their index and middle finger, using their thumb and pinky to steady the bird, while allowing its feet to dangle freely.
I always wondered: I wish I could do that! Hold a bird in my hands. Yet I never once thought: Wait, how did the bird end up in their hands in the first place?
I certainly hadn’t thought biologists run all over the beach chasing after shorebirds like a farmer chasing chickens – I just never thought the process all the way through.
This past summer, I was fortunate enough to become part of that process and learned exactly how a shorebird ends up in a biologist’s bander’s grip. The system may surprise you, but the steps have been mastered over nineteen years of practice, each one with shorebird safety as the top priority.