Over the summer, staff at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, VT, have been meeting just after dawn every week or so to band birds. The idea, says NBNC executive director Chip Darmstadt, is to monitor the local bird population in terms of survival and reproduction rates. That information is then combined with statistics from banding spots around the country to provide an overall picture of the local avian population. Nets set up around the nature center capture birds in flight without harming them. Then birds are removed from the nets and a small, numbered metal band is placed on one leg (if the bird has not been previously banded). The birds are weighed and measured and all the statistics taken down for future use. Then the birds are quickly released. These photos show Chip and Charlie Darmstadt in action, banding on a recent morning. “Basically, you get a readout on the vital statistics of the local population,” Darmstadt said. Songbird banding is done for this season, but there will be some banding of saw-whet owls in the fall.