Re:Bird Banding

Subject: Re:Bird Banding
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 11:47:54 +1000

G'day all
just back on the list after 3 weeks out of the office. I think a few list
members have been too quick to dismiss 'Night Parrot's' concerns about the
impacts of bird banding. Having been a licensed bander for over 20 years I have
seen numerous examples of extremely valuable demographic and movements
information that can only be obtained by recognition of individual birds - there
is a vast literature of such studies in Emu and Corella, for example. As a
contributor to several threatened species recovery efforts that have involved
colour-banding (Orange-bellied Parrot, Helmeted Honeyeater, Regent Honeyeater,
Black-eared Miner), I can also vouch for the value of these sorts of studies in
making decisions for species recovery.

However, all banders should acknowledge that there is also a level of mortality
associated with mist-netting, and with the bands themselves - even bands applied
correctly can lead to problems, eg bands can get caught on twigs, bands can slip
down and restrict movement of the hind toe, shed scales and other gunk can
accumulate beneath a band and restrict blood flow to and from the foot.
Fortunately, numerous case studies indicate that mortality levels are normally
low and that the vast majority of banded birds seem to lead normal lives despite
the bands. However, the decision about whether to band or not should not be
taken lightly, specially in the case of threatened species. I think you will
find that most recovery teams are highly responsible when making these sorts of

 Fortunately, the old days of 'ring and fling' are behind us. The Aust Bird
Banding Scheme now only issues banding authorities for approved research
projects so there is always a clear aim and value behind the application of leg

If readers want to follow up this thread further, there was an interesting
series of letters to the Canberra Ornithologists Group Newsletter about 12
months ago. Like the post that started this thread, that discussion was also
stimulated by the colour banding of Regent Honeyeaters as part of the recovery
effort. The issue was also discussed in The Babbler no. 39, June 1996
(newsletter of the BA Vic Group).

Peter Menkhorst
Senior Wildlife Policy Officer
Flora and Fauna Program'
Dept of Natural Resources and Environment

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