Marked birds - where to send observations?

To: "Simon Mustoe" <>
Subject: Marked birds - where to send observations?
From: "Paul McDonald" <>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 10:31:58 +1000
Hi Simon and other Birders,

I was only speaking to another bander about this topic the other 
day, and in the interests of not having David Geering carry the bag 
yet again I feel compelled to contribute and duly await any spam.

I am a PhD student that is studying the population of Brown 
Falcons at the Western Treatment Plant (WTP), Werribee and 
adjacent Avalon Airport. As part of this project I have been colour 
banding breeding birds and also young for the last 3 seasons. To 
date, 290 birds have been banded; from mid-1999 at least 80% of 
the territory holding population (35-39 pairs) on the WTP has been 
colour-banded. Re-sightings of colour-banded brown falcons can be 
sent to me at:

Mbl: 0410 679 022

Please also note that the Victorian Peregrine Falcon project is also 
colour-banding peregrines throughout Victoria, pass any sightings 
of them onto the ABBBS or me and I will also see that the banders 
get them.

Now, for a bit of a gripe, not personally aimed at Simon but in 
frustration at the lack of response I routinely get from these 
postings. e.g. Simon's comments:

"It seems that if effort is going to be put into marking these birds in 
the first place, then the proponents should, presumably, be making 
a concerted effort to advertise for re-sightings information."

One of the reasons that people may feel disinclined to continually 
advertise their projects is a lack of return for their efforts. I feel that 
my study highlights this point. One of the reasons I chose the 
WTP was for the number of birders moving through the area 
routinely, which I expected to equate to lots of independent colour-
band sightings. Despite the large numbers of birds banded, I have 
had 4 re-sightings reported from birders over the last 3 years. 
Considering the number of birders that visit the WTP in a week and 
the number of banded birds present, this is an poor birder:colour-
band sighting report ratio. 

I don't expect people to do my job for me, but I expected more 
interest in the project than that. Given how pushed for time 
everyone is nowadays, I can easily see how people give up. For the 
people that have reported sightings, I am very grateful and please 
keep looking!

I consider that I have publicised the project widely, putting 
summaries in birding magazines, speaking at several birding clubs 
each year, handing out flyers at all talks and placing reminders on 
birding-aus a couple of times a year, e.g. when young become 
independent and wander widely. It is particularly disappointing to 
hear reports of birders who have been looking at colour-banded 
birds, commented on it to WTP staff (who usually pass my details 
on), and then never hearing of the details.

In short, to end my gripe, banding projects are run to answer 
specific questions. Many of these questions, e.g. where do the 
young go, what migration routes are used etc etc can only be 
answered through reports of re-sightings. The more re-sightings, 
the quicker the question is answered and the fewer birds need to 
be banded to answer the question. Something to keep in mind the 
next time you see a banded bird, particularly if you don't agree with 
the practise of bird banding (although that's another well covered 
issue lets not re-visit!). Please, if you are out birding and see bands 
on any bird, take the time to report the sighting. Most banders are 
only too happy to fill you in on the info about the bird, project and 
any other questions people have (e.g. see my email to Birding-Aus 
late last year in response to Ian Montgomery photographing one of 
my banded birds).

Happy birding,
Paul McDonald

Please report all sightings of colour banded Brown Falcons:
Ph: 03 9742 2902
Mbl: 0410 679 022

Paul McDonald
Division of Botany and Zoology
School of Life Sciences
Australian National University
Canberra, A.C.T.
Australia 0200
Ph:  +61 02 6125 2536
Fax: +61 02 6125 5573
Mbl: 0410 679 022
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