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STILLWATER NWR: What are Bird Bands in the Hand Really Worth?
California-Nevada Offices , August 31, 2010
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Mourning dove were baited in and trapped by a rocket-fired net at a Fallon, Nev. dairy; several trap types were used in Churchill County to trap more than 450 dove for banding this summer. (USFWS photo.)
Mourning dove were baited in and trapped by a rocket-fired net at a Fallon, Nev. dairy; several trap types were used in Churchill County to trap more than 450 dove for banding this summer. (USFWS photo.) - Photo Credit: n/a
A captured mourning dove is shown with its new bird band attached on right leg. (USFWS photo.)
A captured mourning dove is shown with its new bird band attached on right leg. (USFWS photo.) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Susan Sawyer, Stillwater NWR

As mourning dove continue their fall migration, hunters and birdwatchers along the Pacific flyway may notice a little extra ‘bling’ on some of the birds in the form of a small, silver band on the right leg. The dove are part of a nationwide banding project and anyone finding a banded bird is asked to report the information by calling the toll free number inscribed on the band, or fill out the online form at:  http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL. 

                                       

Bands are made of aluminum and inscribed “CALL 1-800-327 BAND” and “WRITE BIRD BAND LAUREL MD 20708 USA”.  This is followed by a unique 8 or 9 digit number.  When reporting a band, be sure to know the date, time and location the bird was sighted or harvested, as well as the complete number code. 

While not mandatory or required by law, reporting bird bands is an effective way of tracking movements of migratory birds during a season, and helps researchers determine population status, habitat use, survival rates and distance traveled in a time period.  Data also helps states determine hunting seasons and bag limits.

Nevada is one of 27 states currently participating in a mourning dove banding project. From June through August of this year, over 450 mourning dove were banded at several trap sites within Nevada's Churchill County alone.  For the 2010 season, banding crews consisted of Stillwater refuge staff and volunteers, using rocket net, drop-net and walk-in traps to capture dove.  They noted at least two age classes of juvenile dove trapped, indicating a late spring and a late summer hatch.  Crews also noted more adult male dove trapped in the morning and evening, while adult females were trapped primarily in the afternoon.  This behavior most likely represents when male dove took over egg incubation duties for a few hours so females could leave the nest and feed.  

Banding birds for identification was first recorded about 1595. One of King Henry IV’s Peregrine falcons was found over 1,300 miles from where it was lost and was identified by its leg band. The first recorded banding of birds in North America was by John James Audubon in 1803. He tied silver cords on the legs of nestling Phoebes and identified two of them when they returned the next year. Dr. Paul Bartsch of the Smithsonian Institution started the first systematic, scientific bird banding program in North America in 1902. He banded 23 Black-crowned night herons with serial numbered leg bands with the return address of “Return to Smithsonian Institute.”

 

Jointly administered by The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Canadian Wildlife Service, the North American Bird Banding Program began in 1920. Over 63 million birds have been banded and over 3.5 million have been recovered and reported under this program.  Bird bands range in size to fit hummingbirds to Trumpeter swans. No matter their size, the information gained by reporting bird bands is very valuable.  By taking the time to note the band number and reporting the information, sportsmen, birding enthusiasts, and private individuals contribute significantly to a globally important migratory bird project.

                                                                                   


Contact Info: SUSAN SAWYER, 775-423-5128, ext. 228, susan_sawyer@fws.gov



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