Mist netting is the method most commonly used for gathering quantitative information on birds in the American tropics. Point count surveys or other methods often are used in conjunction with netting to reduce some of the many biases associated with netting, specially the failure of stationary nets within 2 m of the ground to sample birds of the tall canopy. We compare totals by both methods. Even close to the ground there are biases related to time of day and mesh size that have not been addressed in tropical studies. Some researchers operate nets all day, others only in the morning or in the morning and evening. Since 1986 we have netted birds and conducted point count surveys at more than 130 sites representing a broad spectrum of habitats in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. Using data only from those days when we could operate nets continuously from about dawn to dusk, we compare capture rates throughout the day to show the bias per part-day operations for certain families and species of birds and for the ratio of neotropical migrants to resident birds. More than half of 5000+ birds captured were caught after noon. Trochilidae and parulinae were captured primarily in the morning, Dendrocolaptidae in the middle of the day. Tyrannidae were more active than most birds in early afternoon, and Turdinae had morning and evening peaks. At each site we use a combination of 30-mm and 36-mm nets. The 30-mm mesh consistently captured more seedeaters, gnatcatchers, and small warblers, whereas the 36-mm mesh was more effective for birds of thrush size and larger.
Additional publication details
Netting bias in tropical bird studies
Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station.
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Larger Work Type:
Larger Work Subtype:
Other Government Series
Larger Work Title:
Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds in Mexico: Symposium-Workshop