For the birds – education and conservation at work in Brazil

Students near two Brazil protected areas have been getting up early recently to get close and personal with local birds.

Five mist nets hang across eucalyptus posts in the Brazilian rainforest as part of an effort to create a population baseline of birds.
Focus Tours is using mist nets strung across eucalyptus posts to capture birds in order to establish a population baseline of the birds in Serra da Ferrugem Natural Monument and the Tabuleiro Municipal Park in Brazil.

#NatureForAll partner Focus Tours received a contract to establish a population baseline of the birds in Serra da Ferrugem Natural Monument and the Tabuleiro Municipal Park, in the lower and upper parts.  This is in the county of Conceição do Mato Dentro, north of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in the Serra do Cipo and Ferrugem mountain ranges.

“We have five areas in each of the parks where we cleared and area and strung five mist nets across eucalyptus posts. One day each month we arrive before dawn and open the nets at first light. We check the nets every hour on the hour, taking out the birds we find and putting them into cloth sacks and taking them back to the table where we have the equipment,” said Douglas Trent, president and founder of Focus Tours.

As part of the contract, Focus Tours also established an education program, bringing school children in the region to an area at the Tabuleiro headquarters, where there is active birdlife outside.

A hand holds up a greenish bird, recently ringed, before releasing it into the wild.
Each bird captured is weighed and ringed. Researchers also measure the beak as well as the wing and tail, noting any new feathers. They also check signs of nest sitting before photographing it and then releasing it back into the wild.

“My team goes early and catch some birds, and at 7:00 a.m. the kids arrive, usually in groups of 30. One group of 5 kids get to see the birds come out of the net while the others learn how to use binoculars,” said Douglas. “Unfortunately, we can’t take all of them to see the birds

as that would stress them out.”


With each bird, they first weigh the bag with the bird before carefully taking it out and placing an ID ring on it. The empty bag is then weighed, to deduce the bird’s weight.

“Next, we measure the wing and tail, noting any new feathers. We measure two places in the beak, then turn the bird over and blow softly to separate the belly feathers. We look for signs of nest sitting and photograph if it is.  At this point we take its picture and release it,” said Douglas.

After the lesson, the children are split into two groups, with each going opposite directions in the park, looking for interesting natural things they can find…seeds, frogs, rocks etc.

“The project is a great opportunity to learn about the birds in the area, and teach children about the amazing environment that is right in their backyards. It’s a great way to inspire youth to take care of nature,” said Douglas.


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