(As reported in the April edition of The Seabrooker ; with additional follow-up notes at the end of the story)
Spring is here and the birds are returning in force to our feeders, woodlands and beaches.
Recently Patricia Schaffer noticed a green flag on the leg of a Red Knott she had photographed at North Beach on January 31. By enlarging the photograph, she was able to read the tag number (25-P). Soon after reporting her sighting Patricia received a Certificate of Appreciation and letter from the North America Bird Banding Program informing her of when and where her bird was tagged, how old it was and other related information.
Melanie Jerome, of Creek Watch Villas reported that a Mocking bird with a silver leg tag was regularly visiting her yard during the first week of March.
Bob and Marcia Hider frequently see Painted Buntings with brightly colored leg bands at their bird feeder at Green Heron Drive.
Recently I accompanied Janet Thibault, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologist, on a survey of Piping Plovers at North Beach. We observed several Red Knots and one Wilson’s Plover with leg tags and one multi-banded Piping Plover.
An estimated 60 million birds representing hundreds of species have been banded in North America since 1904 and more than 4 million have been reported or recovered.
Information obtained from banded bird recoveries help researchers study the dispersal, migration, behavior and social structure, life-span and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth of many species of birds.
There are many types of bird bands, the most common are small silver or colored bands placed on various locations on a leg, but flags attached to a leg or wing are also utilized. Bands are typically engraved with an identification number and may have information as to how and where to report a sighting.
There are numerous federal, state, university and private foundations that band birds. All bird banding is regulated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, or transport any migratory bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.
Permits for banding birds are issued by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Bird Banding Laboratory was established by USGS in 1936 and is located at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Patuxent, Maryland.
REPORTING A BAND BIRD
Sightings of a banded bird (or should you find a dead bird with a band) should be reported to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory at www.reportband.gov or you may call 1 (800) 327-BAND (2263).
Banded shorebirds on Seabrook Island beaches may be reported directly to SCDNR at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also want to report your sighting to the Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) at www.seabrookislandbirders.org .
Submitted by: Charley Moore
Environmental Committee & SIB President
Follow-ups to the story:
Patricia Schaefer wrote to SIB: “I spotted an oystercatcher with a leg band today (4/3) and I took pictures and reported it. I got the record on the bird and this is the 3rd time I reported him. First on 12-28-13, then 1-17-15 and now today. In between the last signing he was spotted in Altamaha Sound Georgia on 9-21-15. He was first reported on in 2008.
On Tuesday, April 5, Nancy Brown & Flo Foley spent a few hours as part of their Master Naturalist course with Aaron Givens, Town of Kiawah Biologist, learning and assisting with the banding of Marsh Sparrows. Along with their two instructors and nine other students, they flushed sparrows from the high shrubs in the marsh at Kiawah River bridge into nets. In total they recorded information about eight birds, seven Seaside Sparrows and one Saltmarsh Sparrow. Four birds had previously been tagged by Aaron and four received a band. Learn more about bird banding at Kiawah: http://kiawahislandbanding.blogspot.com
Charley Moore reported his first sighting of the Painted Buntings at his feeders on Tuesday, April 5. Be on the lookout for these beautiful birds!