Curlew Sandpiper - flags

To: "Marilyn Davis" <>, <>
Subject: Curlew Sandpiper - flags
From: "Scott O'Keeffe" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 18:28:18 +1000
Not this again.....

Scott O'Keeffe

-----Original Message-----
 Behalf Of Marilyn Davis
Sent: 01 April 2002 21:19
Subject: Curlew Sandpiper - flags

Hello Everybody

It appears that the Curlew Sandpiper population has been declining steadily
in recent years. Some scientists would like us to believe that the decline
is caused by habitat destruction along their East Asian flyway (migration

While habitat protection is paramount to the survival of birds, anyone
familiar with the East Asian flyway will know that Curlew Sandpiper habitat
destruction along that route is not the likely main cause for decline of
this species.

The cause for the decline of Curlew Sandpiper most likely results from
targeting by bird banders; many thousands of these birds have been leg
flagged in recent years and most of them die within one year of being
marked. Although there is an occasional survivor, very few small waders are
relocated more than one year after leg flagging even though it is known that
Curlew Sandpipers can live for 18 years or more with a single metal band.

Regular field counts show that some wader species are in population decline
and the decline correlates with the commencement of large scale leg flagging
projects. Banders have not publicly revealed (on the internet), total number
of waders of each species that have been leg flagged in Australia or other
parts of the world over the past seven years. This information has been
requested but it seems that banding organisations are embarrassed to reveal
the total figures.

Leg flagged birds simply disappear in the main. They are more disadvantaged
than unmarked birds being more vulnerable to hazards including predation,
exhaustion, hindered from feeding competitively, tangling, more vulnerable
to strong wind and severe weather battering, stress and also probably other
subtle disadvantages to their survival and social interaction.

It appears Curlew Sandpipers rarely survive their long migration after being
shackled often with up to three large colored flags and also a metal band.
Cannon netting, a technique used to catch waders is also responsible for
killing many birds (+/- 4%) but this is a relatively insignificant impact
compared to the death toll that mounts rapidly, particularly when small
waders have been leg flagged.  It is well known that other small wader
species such as Red-necked Stints are also suffering but their their
population may be more sustainable.

Many observers recognise the problem but are reluctant to say anything as
many banders are prominent in ornithological clubs and societies.  Bird
banding has become a social culture and little effort is made to raise
issues of concern and objectively assess the dire impacts of leg flagging
small waders due to a fear of being ostracised by the group.
Most small waders die within one year of leg flagging. Curlew Sandpiper is
in rapid decline and one of the main causes is leg flagging. Lets hope that
the destruction caused to wader populations from leg flagging will be openly
recognised soon and that this most cruel of research techniques will soon be

Happy Easter

Marilyn Davis

Via Katherine NT

NG-AUS] Curlew Sandpiper - flags

>Hi All Ringers,
>We saw an adult Curlew Sandpiper at Seeberg hide Langebaan Lagoon ,west
>coast South Africa with a yellow flag on its right upper leg. A bird was
>seen on Sunday 24/3/2002 and again on Friday 29/3/2002. Don't know if it
>was the same bird but seen in the same area.Any ideas out there who may
>have placed it on the bird.

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