Bird banding contributes to Little Tern carnage

Subject: Bird banding contributes to Little Tern carnage
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2002 17:43:36 +0800
At 17:14 10/01/2002 +0800, Marilyn Davis wrote:
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.

I would question your commonsense as Russell has commented correctly there would be no correlation.

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.

Have you any experience with observing bird banding? A little first hand knowledge would help.

I have seen what I considered some 'hobby' banding, but this was about 10 years ago. It would be very rare now. There is now huge pressure from their peers to ensure that banding serves a purpose. This is on top of all the license conditions from all the authorities.

Even the banding of common birds in 'ordinary' habitat contributes to the total knowledge. I have assisted at a banding site that I have birded many times. I almost never saw Golden Whistlers and a few other species at this site, and yet not only were quite a few banded, but a good proportion were retraps. I have never failed to learn a lot at the few banding sessions that I have assisted.

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.

Have you read the volumes of HANZAB? There is considerable information included that was obtained from bird banding. Journals such as EMU and other refereed journals include articles with data obtained from banding. There are many PHDs, masters and honours degrees based on banding work. These can be found through a literature search.

The Stilt and The Tattler are two journals that regularly publish results of wader banding, retraps, sightings of leg flags, etc.

All banding data is publicly available centrally through the ABBBS, for use in research, articles, etc. Banders are not allowed to keep their data to themselves.

If you went to your library and did a half reasonable literature search you would find many more. You say that the information is 'almost impossible to find'. I suggest that you have never looked.

Frank O'Connor     Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694                Email : 

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