A week or so ago I got this very official-looking letter from the United States Department of the Interior USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Turns out it was the anticipated Certificate of Appreciation for the tagged Mute Swan that I’d submitted sighting information for back in January of this year.
The banding data included on the certificate indicated that the bird was a male banded in Ulster Park, NY on 8/4/2006. The certificate also included the bander’s name and that he was banding for the NY Department of Environmental Conservation. No other encounters were listed on the certificate, so I’m guessing this was the first time this band was reported.
People often ask me why bird banding is important; the statistics included on the certificate are pretty dismal… some 60 million birds have been banded in North America since 1904, yet only 4 million bands have ever been recovered and reported. 4 million is a huge number, of course, but tiny in comparison to the effort put forth to monitor bird populations. The data retrieved supports national and international conservation programs to restore endangered species, study the effects of environmental contaminants and set hunting regulations, for example.
Bird bands can be reported at www.reportband.gov or by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
It’s easy enough to do and voluntary reporting is the backbone of any banding program.