Thursday, December 3, 2009

Roccoli, bird-catching towers

I am training to become a bird ringer, or bird bander, as it is called in the States. One of my teachers lives in Piedmont, which lies at the feet of the Alps, and works at the only bird-catching tower existing outside Lombardy. Roccoli, or bird-hunting towers, originated in the XV century in Lombardy, and were used exclusively by hunters. Now, they are used for catching birds for scientific purposes. Here's a view of the Roccolo in November. Bird towers are an art, you have to know which trees and bushes to plant, and where. Someone is always watching from the little window you can see at the top of the three stories tower. When birds alight on the dead branches, he/she will throw a "paura" over the birds. The "paura" is simply a wicker bat, but the birds perceive it as a flying raptor and when they see it they dive down into the thicket, getting caught in the mist nets. That's when you go down and take them out, and all the fun starts.
Sketches have to be super-fast, so as not to stress the birds, so I concentrate on little details. And details are the key to recognizing species, and determining sex and age. I find ringing is a fascinating experience, that takes you deep into the heart of nature.

The mushroom is a Slippery jack, and it's very tasty breaded and fried!

Barbara Bacci, Rome


  1. These are beautiful sketches and the detail in your narrative and drawings is exquisite and fascinating . You are very fortunate to be able to be involved in such a project.

  2. Thank you! Yes, I do feel lucky to have these experiences, they are enriching

  3. Barbara, I so enjoyed reading this and seeing your sketches. I am helping with a bird banding project here in Tennessee twice a month. I photograph them and later sketch them. But I am fascinated that you can sketch them in the moment. The differences in the netting procedure was interesting to read too.


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