Date: 11/8/17 6:56 am
From: Greg Prelich <gprelich...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Some banding information
Hi Harvey and JerseyBirders, In response to Harvey’s post about The Shorebird Show:

This past fall, Jeanine Apgar and I took a few long walks at North Brig Natural Area, and were thrilled to find many shorebirds, including multiple banded American Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, and Piping Plovers. (A blog entry on one of our banding experiences from there this year can be seen here: <>/.) We reported our sightings to AMOYWG ( <>) and <>, and were humbled and disappointed at how bad we were at correctly identifying the band information. This was partly due to not knowing the banding systems and the color options that were being used, which, as Harvery mentioned, are not always as straightforward as you might think. Afterward, I was contacted by some of the people doing the banding work, and below I pass some of their info on to you folks in the hope that it might be useful for you to report your sightings. It definitely helps to know the systems and colors being used, and photos make everything more reliable.

This link ( <>) gives an idea of the variety of banding code systems that are used just for American Oystercatchers and shows how to report the commonly used (and improved) three-character triangle bands on Oystercatchers. They are read top to bottom, left to right, so the main thing is to pay attention to which of the lower two characters is on the left-hand side of the top letter and which is to the right. Another thing to note is that the code repeats three times around the band to maximize visibility. They don't use the letters D or B in band codes to eliminate confusion with O and 8.

It helps to know what colors are being used. For example, in the field we simply noted blue bands, but later found out that both light blue and dark blue bands were being used. A useful website for distinguishing colors of federal bands is here: <>. In another example, we reported one bird as Yellow CA, but it turned out to be a faded orange band. Some orange bands fade to a pale cantaloupe color that can be mistaken for yellow. None of the other bands fade, so a bright marigold yellow is the true yellow, as opposed to the more washed out faded orange. Once again, photos help enormously.

Background on species with flags:

Shorebirds marked with engraved alpha-numeric flags include: red knot, ruddy turnstone, sanderling, semipalmated sandpiper, some dunlin, some short-billed dowitchers.

Flag colors represent the country where banded:

US - Lime w/ black letters, dark green w/ white letters

Canada - White w/ black letters

Brazil - Dark Blue w/ white

Chile - Red w/ white

Argentina - Orange w/ black

Mexico - Yellow w/ black (Pacific flyway)

Peru - is marking sanderlings, not sure of flag color

Piping Plovers can have either simple color-coded alphanumeric bands or more complex color-only bands, where the location of the bands (upper or lower leg, right vs left) becomes important. It can be tough to report these codes if there are lighting problems (i.e. is it dark blue or black?) on the upper leg or if the uppermost bands are obscured by feathers. A pdf file providing info on the flag keys can be found here: <>.

Greg Prelich

Manchester, NJ

How to report NJ bird sightings: see <>
or e-mail to <njbrcreport...>
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