Considerations for Banding and Marking Birds
To minimize the effects of banding on birds and the costs of processing banding data, it is necessary to restrict the use of bands and markers to well-designed projects that will enable people to gain a better understanding of birds. Prior to undertaking the field study, banders should be sure that the use of bands in a study will help them to answer the questions they are interested in. They should select the most appropriate methods for marking the birds and collecting and analyzing the data. They should estimate the sample size required to do the statistical analyses. There are a number of methods available for the analysis of recapture data from carefully designed studies that allow for estimates of population size, survival and immigration rates.
The bander should mark the minimum number of birds necessary to provide an adequate sample size. This is for three reasons:
- Banders should minimize the impact of banding and marking on birds.
- The reporting of band encounters depends on public cooperation. Studies of hunters have shown that they lose interest in reporting bands when they report bands and find out that the birds were banded locally.
- It is expensive and time-consuming to process data on bandings and encounters that will not provide useful results.
Researchers should consider whether banding birds is necessary for the purposes of the research and whether temporary markers such as a drop of paint or dye or trimmed feather tips may serve their purposes equally as well. A banding permit and auxiliary marking authorization is also required for temporary markers.
The success of the North American Bird Banding Program depends on complete and accurate record-keeping by banders and the Bird Banding Offices. Many banders and wildlife managers use banding and encounter data and depend on its accuracy and timeliness.