How to Make a Bird Trap at the Fish Farm

By | September 23, 2022

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How to Make a Bird Trap at the Fish Farm
 

Yesterday, Nonong (brother of my fish farm overseer) dropped by for a visit. He’s from Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan (four towns away from our farm in Binmaley). He visits only a few times a year. Often, he comes to the farm just to hunt for local pond birds. 

As we expected, he asked her sister’s permission to scout around the farm and look for bird trails. He and his family love to cook and eat his bird catch, as they’re considered local delicacies.

Nonong works as a furniture maker but has a reputation for being a prolific trapper of birds. I was at the farm then when he showed up and he smiled, took my hand, and raised it to touch his forehead (“magmano” – local gesture of greeting an elder and showing respect).

At this time, the pond water levels at the bangus ponds are quite low, April being a dry season month. A week ago (April 5, 2017), Pagasa (the local weather bureau) announced the end of the northeast monsoon and start of the “summer” or dry season.

We have just recently drained our Main pond (for grow-out) for the final harvest. We already applied tea seed powder to remove predator fish, chicken manure, and some inorganic fertilizer. Pond water has seeped back in. Water level, at present, is way below the knee. The sides of the surrounding earth dikes (normally under water) are bare and cheerily expose themselves to the sun.

Working at the bottom of the dikes at the edge of the water is possible at this time. My workers started to check out the dikes, remove unwanted pond grass at the sides, and large debris from the shallow water, plug a few holes, make some repairs, etc.

This narrow strip of land between dike bottom and the water edge is also an attractive feeding ground for the common bush hens (“sikling” in Pangasinense). They can be seen scrounging the area for earthworms, insects, seeds and other tiny creatures at the water edge.

Before writing this blog, I looked up the common bush hen (amaurornis olivacea) in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It’s reassuring to know that our “sikling” bird (common bush hen), is not at all threatened. It falls under the “least concern” category of the Red List. Endemic to the Philippines, it’s found in the entire country, except Palawan. So I’d like to think  it’s really safe to catch or trap a few of them for food.

A trapped bush hen (“sikling” bird)


Lyn, my overseer, has told me how her brother learned about bird traps. His method is the same primitive and traditional way traps are made by their own father, uncles, and grandfather before him.

Although simple and primitive, a bamboo bird trap is not the usual tool known to city folks (they’d rather tinker with their smart phones and tablets). Nonong has been using it with a good measure of success. So I thought why not write about it.

For sure, there are various ways of trapping a bird. This article covers only the method used in our farm. It’s simple, cheap and effective.

So here we go.


A. Materials and Tools
 


1. Bamboo

2. A piece of nylon cord
 


3. Bolo knife or kitchen knife

 


B. Procedures

This simple bird trap has two main parts – a bamboo stick and a nylon string.


Bamboo Sticks
 


1. Get a piece of bamboo pole. Saw off about 15 inches long piece.

2. Using a bolo knife, slice the bamboo pole into several sticks (each about twice as thick as a barbecue stick).

Bamboo sticks of right length and thickness

3. Smoothen the sticks by removing rough edges, until smooth to touch.

Removing rough parts of the stick

4. Sharpen the other end (for sticking into the earth ground).

Sharpening the other end of stick

5. For each stick, make an inch long incision from one end, like splitting the stick lengthwise from the top.

Making an inch long incision at one end where string is to be attached




Nylon Strings

6. Get a piece of nylon rope or cord, not the braided one but the strand type (that is, consisting of several strands twisted together).

A nylon rope or cord made up of strands twisted together

7. Cut the length of rope or cord to around a foot and a half.

8. Untwist the rope or cord, to free up the finer nylon strings. For each trap, use one fine string.

See the thin orange strings (attached to the sticks) taken from one single nylon cord after untwisting the strands

Tying and Loop-Making

9. Tie one end of the string to the bamboo stick as follows:

a. Insert one end of the nylon string into the bamboo slit.

Inserting one end of string between the slit in the bamboo stick

b. Wind four times around the stick.

c. Make a small loop then insert into the slit.

d. Pull tight.

Pulling string tight to complete tying one end of string to the stick


e. Before making the loop at the other end of the string, straighten the nylon string by repeatedly running thumb and index finger through the string and pulling or stretching it.

This will remove any crooked or curly portions of the string and prevent the loop from sagging or twisting.

10. At the other end of the string, make a big loop or a “noose knot” as follows:

a. Hold the stick (with attached nylon string) in a vertical position with your left hand. Hold the other end of the string with your right hand.

  • Starting to make a loop with the other end of the string (for demo purposes, Nonong used a thicker green string)


b. Hold the running (working) end of the attached string with your right hand and pull it away from the stick (see above photo).

c. Bring the running end of the string (with your right hand) back toward the stick (held by your left hand). This will form a “bight” (a C-shaped section of the bent string).




A bight formed from the bent string (like a “C”), as viewed from front

The bight as viewed from the back. Note: this is just for illustration purposes (use of a thick stick and a yellow cable for easy viewing)

d. Pass the running end from behind the upper arc of the “C” and cross over to the upper arc, and down.

Crossing the running end of string over the upper arc of the “C”


e. After crossing over the upper arc of the “C”, pass the string over the lower arc, forming a small circle to your left.

Passing the end of string over the lower arc of the “C”, forming a small circle to the left of the picture

 
f. Pass the running end under the lower arc of the “C” and into the circle.

Passing the string under the lower arc of the “C” and into the small circle


g. Pull up. You now have a loop.

A completed loop attached to the bamboo stick (as viewed from front) – this is the simple bird trap 
A completed loop, as viewed from the back

h.
To prevent slippage of the loop, make a stopper knot (also called
“overhand knot”) at the running end of the string. 

Do this by making a
tiny loop at the end of the string, passing the running end through it,
and pulling to tighten (see above first photo – stopper knot is an inch away from the end of the green string).
 

The trap works this way. The bird walks along the trail. As it passes the bamboo stick (positioned along the trail), the head of the bird gets snagged inside the nylon loop. As the bird tries to escape (by moving forward or backwards), the loop tightens. Either way, the bird is trapped and immobilized.

11. Do Steps 9 and 10 for all the other sticks. For example, Nonong made around 40 pieces of traps (each with a bamboo stick and nylon string loop).

12. Carefully choose the sites along the dike where the bush hens are likely to pass along a familiar trail (on their way from the bottom of dike going up to ground level). 

According to Nonong and my overseer, Lyn, bush hens are creatures of habit. They are likely to use the same trail over and over. Experienced trappers do keep an eye on such bird trails where they can effectively set their traps.

Bird trap being placed along a suspected bird trail

A common bush bird (“sikling”) caught after trap was laid

Picking up the trapped immobilized bird

After trapping several bush hens, get ready for cleaning and cooking of your catch. Pls. click this for an earlier blog on how to clean and cook “sikling” birds.

For a complete list of Fish Pond Buddy blog posts on fish farm-related topics, please click the Index page.