A bird-watcher and photographer is stirring debate with his collection of birds captured in ornithologists’ mist nets.

Todd R Forsgren travelled the world capturing the sometimes jarring images.

The birds are unharmed during the process, with the nets being set up solely for biologists to study them. They are measured, aged, sexed and banded with anklets before being released into back into the wild.

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Unsettling: All the birds caught in mist nets are released unharmed

Citing the painter John James Audubon and ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson as his inspiration, Forsgren writes on his website: “I have chosen to photograph birds while they are caught in mist nets.

“Here, the birds inhabit a fascinating space between our framework of the bush and the hand.

“It is a fragile and embarrassing moment before they disappear back into the woods, and into data…”

The intimacy of seeing the bird in this unnatural state and position can make for an unsettling viewing experience.

Forsgren told 20x200: “Initially, most people think the images are tragic if they’re not familiar with the mist-netting and bird-banding, even a bit difficult to look at.

“But I hope that, as they consider this moment more carefully, they’ll come to understand and appreciate the valuable information that biologists can collect using these techniques.”

Writing in the British Ecological Society’s Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Californian research found birds are rarely injured or killed by mist nets, which have been in use since the 1950s.

Of 620,997 captures the percentage of incidents of injury amounting to 0.59% while only 0.23% of captures resulted in mortality.

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  • Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), 2012. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma), 2012. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Rufous-winged Woodpecker (Piculus simplex), 2012. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Adelaide's Warbler (Dendroica adelaidae), 2009. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Common Ground-dove (Columbina passerina), 2009. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Puerto Rican Tody (Todus mexicanus), 2009. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia), 2007. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua), 2012. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • Variable Seedeater (Sporophila corvina), 2012. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)

  • White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), 2006. (Picture credit: Todd R. Forsgren)