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Annual Bird Monitoring at Reserva las Tangaras

February 12, 2017

By Dr. Dusti Becker (Co-director Life Net Nature)

In December 2016, Life Net Nature volunteers working at Reserva las Tangaras, completed 1050 net hours of mist netting, four afternoons of Hall trapping of hummingbirds, avian surveys in 3 habitats, and also participated in the Mindo Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

p10008092016 Cloud Forest Birds Monitoring Team at Reserva las Tangaras, Ecuador

Here are a few highlights from the bird-monitoring expedition:

  • 437 birds netted representing 71 species
    • 31% recaptures
    • 69% first time captures
  • 26 hummingbirds sampled by Hall trapping – 10 different species
    • Purple-bibbed Whitetip – surprisingly the most common
  • 112 bird species recorded during the CBC on & near the reserve
  • Pale-vented thrush netted for first time – a new record for the reserve
  • Canada warbler & purple honey-creeper netted for the first time
  • 172 different bird species detected on & near reserve during the project!

P1000647.jpgMike Walker and Galen Dolkas at the “Pasture-Edge” banding station and a Zeladon’s antbird (alias – immaculate antbird) in the hand.  

Given that we were a team of bird-science enthusiasts,  we each evaluated an aspect of the team data and presented findings to each other at the end of the project.

P1000814.jpgVolunteers with scientific posters they made about avian monitoring at Reserva las Tangaras

From left to right in the above photo: Clarice Clark presented data showing that not surprisingly male club-winged manakins were particularly abundant in pasture-edge nets (near where they lek), but in contrast, on the other side of the river, in thick second growth sites, breeding females and hatch-year birds were more often netted. Galen Dolkas compared species diversity in different years and sites, and Megan Zagorski presented information about the diversity of habitats used by hummingbirds.  Savannah Robinson  reflected on some of the challenges associated with aging tropical birds having found several species that were clearly adult (by brood patch or other indicators), but that lacked fully ossified skulls.  Mike Walker compared average capture rates of commonly netted passerines over the past 4-years of monitoring.

Dr. Dusti Becker compared mist-netting results before and after an illegal road and clearing were made near the monitoring site called “Low Forest”.  As shown in Table 1, compared to the three years before the habitat damage, capture rate, species detected, and indices of diversity all declined in the 2016 sample.

Table 1. Mist netting results at Low Forest banding station (Reserva las Tangaras) before (2013-15) versus after (2016) illegal deforestation for a road and a clearing. 

 MEASURES 2013 2014 2015 2016
Captures/150 nh
41 43 44 36
Species Richness (SR)
19 25 20 16
SR/Captures/150 nh
0.46 0.58 0.45 0.44
D (Simpson’s) 10.42 11.24 10.10 7.04
H (Shannon’s) 2.55 2.86 2.65 2.33

Want a copy of the final field report? or results of the Mindo CBC? Contact Dr. Dusti Becker at and she’ll send you PDFs.

BTW – The next avian monitoring session at Las Tangaras will be July 15-29, 2017.  Want to join this exciting expedition as a cost-share volunteer? Contact Dr. Dusti Becker for application forms and more info –

Bottom line – high avian diversity site, great birding, lots of fun, great way to learn how to mist net and band birds and add to your professional resume and connections!

Here are a few more photos from the 2016 avian monitoring project, and more can be found at the Life Net Nature Facebook page –



Above: “Eye candy”:  Red-headed barbet, green-crowned woodnymph, purple honey-creeper (female), &  flame-faced tanager.


Above: Our resident broad-billed motmot – often seen near the Reserva las Tangaras research cabin.

p1000815Above: Yellow-throated Toucan (previously chestnut-mandibled toucan) is often seen on forest edges along roads and pastures.


Many thanks to intrepid Life Net Nature volunteers: Dr. Larry Vereen, Mike Walker, Clarice Clark, Megan Zagorski, Debbie Brown, Savannah Robinson, Galen Dolkas, and Tom Roher for their assistance with and funding for the 2016 annual bird monitoring at Reserva las Tangaras!  Y gracias a nuestro equipo de Ecuador: Pascual Torres, y Mauricio Torres (Research Assistants), and their lovely wives Jessica Medina y Alicia Torres, who prepared our meals and kept the research cabin tidy.

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