Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Name That Band

What's with his legs? Inquiring Canadians want to know!

After posting a message on Orange County Birding about spotting a couple of banded birds over the weekend, I received an e-mailed question from the ever-vigilant Nancy Kenyon: had I reported my sightings?

My first thought was, "Wait, I did report it—doesn't posting about it both on OC Birding and here count?"

Well, no. Nancy was nice enough to track down and pass along this link to the Bird Banding Office of the Canadian Wildlife Service. The office has taken responsibility for tracking reports of banded shorebirds internationally. (I have a soft spot for Canada, since I spent three wonderful (albeit poverty-stricken) years working in Vancouver—what's not to love about a country that has both a functional universal healthcare system and the wherewithal to track every banded bird in the Western Hemisphere?)

The BBO site is fun to explore. Along with a link to a form one can submit to report sightings (and copious information on how to provide as obsessively detailed a report as possible), there is also info on how to band birds, and info on color-coding of the 'flags' (bands with visible tabs) seen on some birds. Apparently, the flags are color-coded by country of origin: birds that are 'flagged' in the US get green flags, for instance.

My flagged Red Knot from the weekend had a yellow flag, which means he/she was banded in Peru. Wow. That little thing flew all the way to Bolsa Chica from all the way down there?

Birds never cease to freak me out.