The Herald Bulletin

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April 27, 2014

Bird weekend at Mounds State Park takes flight

ANDERSON — Brad Bumgardner knows a lot more about angry birds than anyone who’s played the popular game on their cellphone or tablet.

Bumgardner’s job as an interpretive naturalist for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is to catch and band birds in the name of science.

Birds don’t care about science.

And they don’t like getting trapped in a net, put in a bag, and handled by a human who weighs and sexes them, determines their age, and then puts a band on their leg.

Despite getting pecked at and having his fingers pinched as the birds squawk, squirm and flutter in protest, the information researchers gather is important, Bumgardner said.

“It’s a great way to research a lot of the birds,” he said “By catching them, we can look at age, sex, and look at a lot of different aspects of the birds’ lives.”

Although he normally works at Indiana Dunes State park in northern Indiana, Bumgardner was at Mounds State Park this weekend for the first “Bird the Mounds Weekend.”

“This is our first birding weekend and it has been very popular,” said Jessica Rosier, interpretive naturalist at the park. “We’re hoping it will become popular so it will become an annual event people will look forward to.”

Not only was the event the first of its kind at Mounds, Bumgardner also scored a first.

He captured and banded his first Pileated Woodpecker. About the size of a crow, some researchers thought for a time the bird might become extinct, Bumgardner said.

But it has adapted to living near humans and in smaller forests with smaller trees.

Normally, Pileated Woodpeckers don’t respond to food placed in feeders “because they are shy and skittish birds, but this one was not,” Bumgardner said. “She came right in.”

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