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Auxiliary Marking Authorization

The use of color markers, transmitters and other auxiliary markers is not authorized unless specifically noted on the banding permit. These markers can affect survival and encounter rates and some markers are discouraged. Spiral and wrap-around plastic bands can shrink with time and should be uncoiled and recoiled in reverse, as well as sealed with acetone. Radio transmitters should not exceed 3% of total body weight. Wing tags are discouraged on hole-nesting species; neck collars and nasal saddles have potential icing problems.

Before requesting auxiliary authorization, consideration should be given to the following questions:

- Is auxiliary marking really needed for the purposes of the study?
- Will the marker be readily visible to observers?
- Is the marker colorfast and sturdy enough to last the duration of the study?
- Will the marker significantly change predation or hunting pressures?
- Will the marker injure or affect the behavior of the bird in any way?

Receiving an Auxiliary Marking Authorization includes an obligation to the public. The chances are high that someone will see marked birds and report them to one or both Bird Banding Offices. We will forward such reports to the bander for a response, informing the person reporting the sighting about the bird(s) and the project. This applies whether or not the project solicits input from the public.

Please remember that there are a limited number of colors, so plan projects with the fewest colors possible. Existing color-marking authorizations have priority if there are potential conflicts. It may, therefore, be necessary for the Bird Banding offices to inform other researchers of a proposed project or require banders to do so. In this way potential conflicts can be worked out ahead of time. Protocols have been established for marking certain species of waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, etc. Banders may have less flexibility when marking such birds, and should contact the appropriate Banding Offices prior to submitting a request to determine available colors or marker types.


Picric Acid Explosive Hazard

Banders are reminded that Picric Acid, commonly used to dye plumage, may become an explosive hazard if improperly stored. Picric acid should be maintained in solution and not allowed to dry out; when crystallized Picric Acid becomes a shock sensitive or impact sensitive explosive. Banders using Picric Acid should read and be familiar with the
MSDS - Material Safety Data Sheet provided by the chemical supplier.

How to Request Auxiliary Marking Permission

Please allow 2 months lead time to process your auxiliary marking request.

Banders should plan ahead for the next season's field work, and request auxiliary markers in advance of their need to mark birds. Allowing 2 months for the Bird Banding Laboratory to process your request should be sufficient. There may be additional time required for the bander to coordinate with others marking the same species. Coordination is the responsibility of the banders.

Banders who wish to use auxiliary markers should include the following information in their requests:

- permit number
- species or subspecies and estimated number to be marked,
- type(s) of markers to be used on each species,
- colors for each marker type and species,
- geographic location of project (nearest town, county, state),
- date study will begin and probable duration,
- a project proposal explaining the need and goals, and
- a brief summary of the bander's experience with the markers.
- frequency range and attachment type for radio transmitters (e.g. 164-167 MHZ, backpack).
- a statement of the percent body weight for radios
(please contact the BBL prior to requesting radio transmitters of over 3% total body weight).

Please ensure that you send a complete request with a research proposal – for Universities, Non-profits and Private Individuals contact Danny Bystrak at DBystrak@usgs.gov or 301-497-5796 for State and Federal Agencies contact Jennifer McNicoll at jmcnicoll@usgs.gov or 301-497-5808

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