Research Publication Title

Patterns of Avian Net Avoidance

Major

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Katie Stumpf

Keywords

net avoidance, net evasion, mist netting, sampling bias, abundance, Panola

Abstract

Mist netting is the most popular field technique used to estimate avian species abundance. It can, however, provide a biased estimate of species abundance as not all birds are equally likely to be captured. This is partially due to net avoidance, the purposeful evasion of mist nets by birds. Net avoidance depends on several factors, including species, net conditions such as light exposure, and environmental conditions such as cloud cover. The purpose of this research is to explore which factors contribute to net avoidance at the bird banding station located at Panola Mountain State Park in Stockbridge, Georgia. I placed two cameras at each end of six 12m mist nets and set them to film from approximately 7:00AM to 10:00AM. I recorded net avoidance behaviors such as birds changing course to fly around a net and recorded the net conditions during each avoidance event, including net light exposure, wind, and birds already captured in the net. I also recorded general environmental conditions every hour, including temperature, cloud cover, and fog. More birds avoided nets than were captured, and some species, such as eastern bluebirds, were more likely to avoid nets than others, such as swamp sparrows. Additionally, certain species were more likely to visit some nets than others, likely due to the microhabitat surrounding the nets. More captures as well as avoidance events occurred earlier in the morning, likely due to factors such as wind and light exposure. These results can be used to more accurately determine species abundance based on banding data and determine the optimal placement of mist nets at Panola.

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Patterns of Avian Net Avoidance

Mist netting is the most popular field technique used to estimate avian species abundance. It can, however, provide a biased estimate of species abundance as not all birds are equally likely to be captured. This is partially due to net avoidance, the purposeful evasion of mist nets by birds. Net avoidance depends on several factors, including species, net conditions such as light exposure, and environmental conditions such as cloud cover. The purpose of this research is to explore which factors contribute to net avoidance at the bird banding station located at Panola Mountain State Park in Stockbridge, Georgia. I placed two cameras at each end of six 12m mist nets and set them to film from approximately 7:00AM to 10:00AM. I recorded net avoidance behaviors such as birds changing course to fly around a net and recorded the net conditions during each avoidance event, including net light exposure, wind, and birds already captured in the net. I also recorded general environmental conditions every hour, including temperature, cloud cover, and fog. More birds avoided nets than were captured, and some species, such as eastern bluebirds, were more likely to avoid nets than others, such as swamp sparrows. Additionally, certain species were more likely to visit some nets than others, likely due to the microhabitat surrounding the nets. More captures as well as avoidance events occurred earlier in the morning, likely due to factors such as wind and light exposure. These results can be used to more accurately determine species abundance based on banding data and determine the optimal placement of mist nets at Panola.

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