For the first six years of my bird photography “career” I rarely encountered banded birds but in the last two years or so I encounter them regularly, some species more than others. Usually when I see a bird with bands or transmitters strapped to their backs I don’t even click the shutter except for documentation purposes.
This image of a banded Burrowing Owl was taken on July 13. Based on my multiple encounters with them I’d estimate that almost 3/4 of the Burrowing Owls on Antelope Island are banded or have transmitters. Or both.
This shot of a banded juvenile Loggerhead Shrike was taken on July 6. Most (significantly over half) of the shrikes on the island are also banded.
Like this adult, some shrikes have an incredible amount of “jewelry” strapped to their legs.
This banded (look closely at its right leg) juvenile shrike landed on the tailgate of my pickup, also on the morning of July 6.
On July 15 I photographed this Caspian Tern at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. If you look closely you’ll see that it’s banded.
Another shot of the same bird shows three bands on its left leg and one huge band on its right.
Last week I sent this image and reported the sighting to email@example.com…
and as they usually do they sent me this Certificate of Appreciation. I always find it interesting to see when and where the bird was banded and by whom. Obviously this kind of information can be of significant value in managing bird populations so I regularly report banded birds when I can read the numbers on the bands and I’ve long supported (publicly and otherwise) the banding efforts of legitimate banding organizations such as HawkWatch International and Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI).
But my concerns about banding are growing. It’s a complicated and controversial subject – much too complex to go into in any detail here but I’m reading reports that suggest that in many cases banding and other tracking instruments may be doing more harm to birds than we ever knew – in some cases more harm than good. I’m aware of several banders that have at least some of the same concerns.
It’s a subject I’ll be following closely and likely be reporting on in the future.
Note: I’m off on another jaunt to Montana – duration unknown. I’ve scheduled posts in my absence but I’ll be without access to a computer so I won’t be responding to any comments, though I do receive your comments on my phone when I have a signal and I always enjoy them.
Wish me luck with the smoke from the fires in Washington, Oregon and Idaho – the prevailing wind direction is not helpful…