Bird banding contributes to Little Tern carnage

Subject: Bird banding contributes to Little Tern carnage
From: "Marilyn Davis" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 17:14:56 +0800
Hello everyone

In reply to some recent criticism, I wish to clarify several points that appear to have been misunderstood about my earlier note (6/1/02) regarding the tragic loss of Little Terns that i believe was "contributed to" by bird banding.

1. Violent hailstorms and other extreme weather events are often associated with destructive winds. In these conditions a small bird carrying leg flags is more vulnerable to severe buffeting compared to a non banded individual. Commonsense tells me that a leg flagged/banded bird is therefore greatly disadvantaged in its ability to maneuver in extreme weather conditions therefore hindering its likely success to avoid harm and find shelter.

2. I recognise and have no criticism of the obvious need to manage bird habitats, using concerned volunteers and appropriate bird research and field study methods as a tool for management. However i differentiate from this, the largely unnecessary hobby like activity associated with most bird banding projects. This includes catching, banding, flagging, bleeding and otherwise handling etc. wild birds which on the available evidence is often destructive to the very birds we desire to protect. I simply cannot see that in most circumstances, bird banding contributes any additional results that further justifies the need to manage or conserve our birds.

3. Re: bird banding projects that have been undertaken in recent years; where are all the published works that have resulted from this amount of activity? I am specifically referring to the published results from bird banding studies that could partly justify it's impact; the publicly available published results that would allow us to see that there has been no unnecessary work or duplication. It is almost impossible to find results that assist us to quote definitive statistics of where, when and how many birds of what species have been banded and flagged to enable some reasonable scrutiny of this activity.

For example, what published results show how many Red-necked Stints have been leg banded and flagged in the past three years in Australia and throughout the rest of the world. How were they marked, how many were marked, where and when? How many of these Stints are still alive? Where are they now?

I don't retract my comments about bird banding contributing towards the Little Tern carnage that occurred on Christmas eve at Lake Tyers. A large representation of the birds found killed were banded and we can only guess how many were never found.


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