Thursday, July 11, 2013

This could have been the beginning of a horror movie

This morning I helped with a bird banding demo for a teachers workshop being held at a nearby Conservation Area. Chick in Charge and I went to visit the site on Tuesday to speak with the supervisor and choose a place to set up our nets. When we picked an area around bird feeders, we were warned that deer could be a problem. Chick in Charge decided to circumvent that problem by placing one of us (the volunteers) just outside the feeding area to deter the deer.

The Supervisor met with us this morning to fill the bird feeders while we set the nets up. Her appearance with a big bucket of seed was like a beacon to the deer. There were at least 3 hovering just outside the feeder area. The deer remained after she left, and even moved in closer. We decided to place both of the interns outside the feeders to deter the hungry deer.

Thankfully the demonstration passed without incident. Sensing our wrap up, the deer began amassing just outside the feeder area.  It was a little unsettling to watch this small herd of deer walk slowly towards us with no fear. I could picture their eyes turning red, baring their teeth as they tightened the circle around us hapless two leggeds. How could we stand a chance against those hooves? And our nets! How were we going to protect those oh-so-expensive nets from the destruction of these feral deer?? Hmm, I think I've read too many urban fantasy books.

But all kidding aside, see that aluminum pole on the right side of the picture? Yeah, there's a very expensive mist net on it. I was rooting through the supply box, looking for flagging tape when I looked up to see that.
You're not fooling anyone. I see you.
Now begone!

The supervisor appeared to watch the process of shutting nets and keep an eye on the deer. Not long after we shut down our second net, one of the deer walked up and started licking one of the aluminum poles. The supervisor clapped her hands and the offending deer bounced away
Why are you licking our pole? That doesn't resemble a salt lick. Shoo!
Thankfully deer aren't too much of a problem at our other banding sites. Our main offenders are insects and I'm the one usually trying to extract the cicadas, dragonflies, and junebugs. Bumblebees and wasps are a different story. While I've overcome my trepidation of bees, I still run the other way when a stinger hits the nets.

There's rarely a dull moment with mist netting. If the flyers aren't keeping you busy, the nature around the nets keep things interesting.


  1. They grow bolder...

    Yeah. That could be a horror movie. What is done to control the deer population around there? Do they have a hunt to thin the herd? Because if they're doing nothing, it will turn into a horror movie for the deer, as they slowly starve to death due to a lack of bird feeders. Surely Conservation Area folks have heard of carrying capacity!

    1. Hillbilly Mom,

      I'm not sure what they do. I imagine they would (or have done in the past)shoot
      during off hours. It's one of the busiest CA in terms of deer AND human visitors.