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Ornithology Tools: Heligoland Trap and Rocket Net

Ornithology is a broad scientific field that deals with the study of birds. Ornithologists examine every aspect of a bird’s life by utilising several tools and techniques. Its tools and techniques vary as new approaches and inventions are easily integrated. Some of these tools are the funnel trap and rocket net.



Heligoland trap or funnel trap is a huge, permanently sited tool utilised for catching birds. The term “Heligoland trap” was derived from the place Heligoland, Germany, where the earliest of such traps was made. A Funnel trap consists of a funnel-shaped fixed structure of wire netting on a wooden structure. Bushes are placed in the trap’s mouth to attract birds. The birds are then driven into the trap’s narrow end where a ‘catching box’ is placed.

A rocket net is a type of animal trap used to entrap huge numbers of birds and other animals. A rocket net is made up of an accordion net folded in a rectangular shape with one of its edges anchored to the floor. The angles of the reverse edge at the peak of the creased heap are affixed to heavy tubes with a clogged tip. These tubes are located over stakes and are positioned at an angle. An electrically triggered shell is positioned at the hollowed end of the stakes. The shell is then activated, causing the heavy tubes to rise at an angle. The net is spread throughout an area to attract the wanted animals.

Rocket nets, and other related cannon nets, are utilised in conservation programmes where a huge number of live animals require to be secured for veterinary care, analysis, or relocation purposes.