Along an opening in the forest is an all but invisible mesh from knee to head height, strung between two poles seining treasures from the air. In one net is a struggling heartbeat of feathers. Quietly a figure approaches and cupping the bird in one hand carefully weaves the net from around his prize and slips the bird into a cotton sack and hangs the sack from his belt.
The young man is Ethan Duke. Along with his partner Dana Ripper they run the Missouri River Bird Observatory near Marshall. They are bird banders and work tirelessly conducting a host of surveys. Along with monitoring migrants, they also monitor the comings and goings of marsh birds, saw-whet owls and even manage to do some backyard banding. The work that they do is important because it gives us a better picture of our avian friends, their growth and health, the impact of habitat change and an idea of their numbers.
Dana and Ethan always welcome visitors and volunteers. They are on the web at Missouri River Bird Observatory.