Bird banding

Subject: Bird banding
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2002 22:04:42 +1100
Some comments... and I hope I'm not going over old ground to much...

> 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.

It is unlikely that ANY of the terns killed in the recent Victorian hailstorms 
would have been flying during the storm.  Most species have a windspeed 
tolerance beyond which they avoid flying.  I would be surprised if many of the 
casualties had been airborne during the storm - more likely they were killed at 
the roost, so the suggestion that leg-flagged birds were more susceptible to 
damage than non-flagged birds is a little hard to justify.  However, in the 
absence of data which confirms either case we really can't say that flagged 
birds were more or less in danger during the hail storm.  I would think that 
the only time migrants would be in greater danger if they carried leg flags or 
bands would be during passage at sea when it would be more difficult to avoid 

> 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.

A number of people far more qualified than I have already contributed this 
information - much of it is available by by searching the briding-aus archive.

> 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'd suggest EMU would be a good place to start looking for published research 
findings.  There are similar journals published in many other countries that 
would doubtless contain similar reports.  Emu subscribers used to receive an 
annual publication outlining research published in many of these journals.  I 
think it is now published online, but I don't have the URL at hand.

I'm sure a body like the Australian Wader Study Group would be able to provide 
data for this country's bandings - but the only way of knowing how many were 
still alive would be to look at recoveries (dead birds and retraps) and I have 
no idea what sort of percentage of banded birds are recorded again.  Again, the 
AWSG would be the place to get this sort of info.  

I don't think it helps much to say things like "a large representation of the 
birds found killed were banded" without some understanding of how many birds of 
this particular population are banded.  And what constitutes a "large number"?  
I can only hope that the data from these banded birds was forwarded to AWSG.  
That's the whole point of banding - and yes, it overlooks the needs of some 
individuals for the needs of the species.  It doesn't help being 
anthropomorphic or sentimental about it.  From my very limited experience of 
watching banders at work I know they show great care with each bird and hate 
nothing more than seeing an individual bird suffer.

Russell Woodford
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