A Band of Birders & Others

To: Geoffrey Allan Jones <>, "" <>
Subject: A Band of Birders & Others
From: Damien Farine <>
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:03:26 +1100
Firstly: my motivation for continuing on this debate is that there is obviously 
a general lack of awareness about many issues and benefits of studying birds, 
combined with some deep concerns about the welfare of doing this. 
Geoff,A few answers to your questions.
First, there has been extensive research on the effects of banding. For example 
here is a nice study relating to waders by some very well-regarded researchers: Some studies will also report detrimental effects in 
order to encourage avoiding that technique for a particular species. These make 
recommendations that are then generally enforced by the banding office.
I think that the main issue with this debate stems from people being opposed to 
cannon netting. Let me again re-assure you that cannon netting is rare. As far 
as I know, only a handful of people are even licensed to do it, and these 
people are typically involved in active research. I don't have experience with 
shorebirds, but it is exceedingly rare that a bird is injured in a mist-net 
(rates of self-injury must be less than 1/10000). One way that birds are killed 
is by predators while caught in a net (in this case it happens very fast). This 
is avoidable by keeping a good lookout.  
Birds are not flushed into mist-nets. In general, banders rely on placing 
mist-nets in flyways, hoping to catch birds as they move through the landscape. 
Birds are very rarely 'jabbed' for blood samples - this is really only done for 
very targeted studies (and becoming rarer as techniques are enabling more and 
more data to be extracted from foecal samples). 
In many cases, banding is important for keeping track of the actual population 
size. I suspect that this is what is being done with the orange-bellied 
parrots. No one claims that banding helps the birds survive - again I 
re-iterate that conservation is achieved by implementing actions based on 
knowledge, and knowledge can only be gained by research.
Now what I find most disturbing about your post is the use of terms such as 
'so-called sake of research'. The political climate in Australia is totally 
decimating science. There is almost no money left for basic 
exploratory/discovery research. Yet this is the foundation of our knowledge. 
The fact that, in this country, even people that are obviously interested in 
these issues and identify as nature-lovers do not support scientific endeavour 
is simply frightening. For example, studying the response of common species to 
different environmental changes tells us a great deal more than studying rare 
or endangered species - and we should be encouraging all possible avenues of 
enquiry in these times of massive change. Instead, we are moving towards a 
model where only science with a direct application is viewed as important - 
both in terms of government research but also increasingly in the eyes of the 
general public.
As I stated in my first post - the vast majority of birds that are banded are 
part of active research targeted at gaining knowledge about various species. 
There have been hundreds of PhD students that have studied the ecology and 
conservation biology of largely unknown Australian species. This information is 
money in the bank, but is generally only achievable by having each individual 
uniquely identifiable. Hence, unlike shooting birds, which was based largely on 
describing species and their distribution, banding enables us to collect a 
wealth of knowledge that, one day, may be invaluable.
I think that, before criticising banding in general, it may be helpful to find 
ways to help build understanding surrounding scientific activities so that 
people can make informed decisions. I know that most universities in Australia 
allow the public to attend many of the seminars they run. Approaching biology 
and ecology departments at a local university is one way getting more exposure 
to some of the great work being done out there. Sadly, in Australia there is 
very little media coverage of discovery science (unlike say on the BBC:

CC: ; 
Subject: A Band of Birders & Others
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:18:48 +1100

Gidday Everyone Please remember this is just a point of few from different 
sides and there is nothing personal against anyone on this forum. Bird Banding 
is certainly a touchy subject and my original post was very emotional, I have 
calmed down now and slowly thought about the subject. I have in no way changed 
my view on this subject and as Damien has put his views forward point by point, 
can I challenge what he has said, in some ways?  For there is no Federal or 
State funding on the detrimental effects of banding birds for the sake of 
research and what evidence can I and people who want to remain anonymous give 
back about banding, please also remember I am not against all banding if it is 
for the sake of critical research to save a species. No 1 What happens to birds 
that are injured when either they are caught in a mist net or when Cannon 
Netting are they sent off to be looked after by carers or do they have their 
necks rung to put them out of their misery. No 2  Birds flush naturally if a 
person or animal gets too close to them that is their most natural instinct and 
in no way does it cause stress to a bird it is there natural defence.If a bird 
is called in, it can leave of its own free will and I for one do notice that if 
a bird is agitated I immediately stop the call as the birds welfare is my main 
priority not the photo.  Getting caught in a mist net, and how are birds caught 
in a mist net? they are usually herded or flushed towards a net! So then after 
they are trapped in the net they are manhandled, and in a lot of cases jabbed 
for blood samples, before being ringed, and then placed in a bag to be 
eventually released. In the case of waders being released, most of them 
singularly they become ideal prey for predators, so what price for research? 
And can someone please tell me what is the natural defence of a bird against 
that? No 3 Have a look at the banding done on the Orange-bellied Parrot, the 
banding on this species has done nothing, yet pure observation tells us that 
they are losing their habitat in Victoria and South Australia and this has been 
learnt by counting numbers not by putting an extremely endangered bird thru the 
traumatisation of banding. No 4 There are quite a few of us out in the field, 
week in & out who observe what is going on out there, we know that Australia is 
a boom bust cycle for some birds and we are well aware of what population 
growth and unscrupulous developers are doing. But when do we draw the line 
about banding birds for what some believe is for the good of the species, is 
the stress and maiming and sometimes death of a bird in the so-called sake of 
research worth it?   Also if anybody out there has a photo of an injured bird 
done by banding or they think that a bird has to many bands on its legs please 
send them to me and I will put them up on my website. I for one think it is 
time that we seriously looked at the habit of Bird Banging for Banding sake and 
need to come up with a different way, Just remember that way back research was 
done by shooting, then skinning birds which we all now look at as barbaric. 
Regards to everyoneGeoff JonesBarraimaging                                      
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