Dozens of hummingbird feeders line Luke Laborde’s backyard. Each September, ruby-throated hummingbirds making their southward migration flock to the bright red feeders. LSU College of Agriculture students congregate at Laborde’s as well. Laborde is an instructor in the College of Agriculture’s School of Renewable Natural Resources, and the students are in a wildlife management techniques class.
“Our goal in the class is to get the students into the field and teach them safe capture and handling techniques for different types of Louisiana wildlife,” Laborde said
The class used remote-controlled cages to capture the birds. Senior Katie Bowes tried to gently remove a bird from the cage.
“Mine kind of got stuck in the cage, and it took me a couple of tries to get it out without hurting it, so I had to be real gentle,” Bowes said.
Dave Patton, a licensed bird bander, was gathering information on each bird and banding them.
“The process I ran them through here is the measurements of the wing and tail, the bill, the amount of fat it has on it, weight, general condition of health,” Patton said.
The information is sent to a federal bird banding laboratory. If the bird is ever recaptured, the information is available to compare the bird’s growth and location.
“This information is extremely important because it allows us to keep up with population dynamics and migration trends and things like that, so yeah, it’s really, really cool,” said Derrell Wilright, senior.
For most students, the most exciting part of the project was the release of the birds. When Patton finished banding and measuring each bird, he put it in a student’s hand. Some birds flew away quickly, but others lingered before flitting away.
In this class students will also have the opportunity to capture and study ducks, doves, turkeys, gopher tortoises, deer and feral hogs.