Population Inventory and Monitoring

Bird Banding Laboratory

12100 Beech Forest Road

Laurel, Maryland 20708-4037

301-497-5790, FAX 301-497-5784


July, 1994


To: All Banders

From: Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory


  1. National Biological Survey
  2. New telephone numbers
  3. Staff changes
  4. Band items
  5. Threatened/Endangered Species items
  6. MAPS
  7. Enclosures
  8. Product announcements
  9. Recent literatur

1. National Biological Survey

Last November the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) was transferred from the Fish and Wildlife Service to the newly created National Biological Survey (NBS). The mission of NBS is to gather, analyze and disseminate the biological information necessary for the sound stewardship of our Nation's natural resources and to foster our understanding of biological systems and the benefits they provide to society. NBS will strongly emphasize inventorying, monitoring and reporting on the status of the Nation's biotic resources. BBL was selected for inclusion in NBS because of its key role in migratory bird research and management, and because of banding's potential contribution to expanded avian monitoring programs. BBL is part of NBS' Inventory and Monitoring group which includes the Breeding Bird Survey and other prominant programs. We are optimistic that being included in NBS will have long-term benefits for the North American bird banding program. Dr. H. Ronald Pulliam, a long time bander and recent director of the Institute of Ecology at the University of Georgia, has been appointed Director of NBS.

The transfer of BBL was an administrative move within the Department of Interior. We remain physically located at the Patuxent Environmental Science Center in Laurel, Maryland. We will gradually change our letterhead, forms, permits, Certificates of Appreciation, bands, etc. to reflect the transfer. In the meantime you may continue to use existing materials, and your banding permits remain valid.

2. New Telephone Numbers

A new telephone system has been installed at the Patuxent Environmental Research Center. To take advantage of its expanded capacity and capabilities, new telephone numbers with 4 digit extensions have been issued. BBL's new numbers are:

MAIN OFFICE         301-497-5790
FAX                 301-497-5784
ANSWER MACHINE      301-497-5807
BIOLOGIST           301-497-5796 (Danny Bystrak)
BIOLOGIST           301-497-5795 (K. Klimkiewicz)
AUXILIARY MARKING   301-497-5804 (Vacant)
BANDING SCHED.      301-497-5794 (Karen Jones)
RECOVERY PROC.      301-497-5940 (Wendy Manear)
BAND SUPPLY         301-497-5805 (Peggy Powell)
PERMITS             301-497-5799 (Flo Soehnlein)
CHIEF               301-497-5790 (John Tautin)

3. Staff Changes

BBL biologist Bill Howe has accepted a position as regional nongame bird coordinator with the Fish and Wildlife Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bill's duties at BBL covered primarily banding schedules and the auxiliary marking program. Also, four long-time clerical employees accepted government incentives to retire early. You may know them best from seeing their initials on various pieces of correspondence, e.g., Rose Scott (RAMS), 33 years service; Esther Walters, 31 years; Nancy Mullis, 27 years; and Trish McKay, 7 years. We trust that you found all of these fine people to be as professional and a pleasure to work with as we did.

Mary Gustafson, currently employed by the Patuxent Environmental Research Center, Branch of Environmental Contaminants and Research, is covering Bill Howe's duties on a temporary, part time basis. Mary has extensive banding experience, including work at the Long Point, ON and Cape May, NJ bird observatories.

4. Band Items

  1. Please correct the band size for Gray Catbird (#704.0) in Fig. 5-1a of the Manual (p. 5-34) from 1B-1A to 1A only.
  2. Please modify the band size for Yellow-breasted Chat (#683.0) from 1B to 1B-1A-2. Western populations in particular may require the larger band sizes. We thank bander Susan Blackshaw for the information leading to this change.
  3. Stilt Band Sizes. Further research on Hawaiian Stilts (#226.1) has determined that, although most birds would comfortably take a size 4 band above the tarsometatarsal joint (as reported in MTAB 75), some individuals will require size 4A. In the Bird Banding Manual please change the recommended band size for this species to 4-4A. Also make note that all stilts should be banded above the joint to avoid injury, but not until the birds are at least two days old. Similarly, please change the band size for Black-necked Stilt (#226.0) from 3A to 3A-4 (females) and 4 (Males). All banding of this species should also be above the tarsometatarsal joint. We thank bander Lew Oring for the information leading to this change.
  4. We have had chronic problems with getting reliable supplies of bands from the manufacturer. We thank banders who returned unneeded bands to us (see MTAB 75) during a period of shortages. A significant number of bands were returned and then reissued to banders in need.
  5. We thank banders for their feedback on the new band sizes (see MTABS 75, 71, 70). Generally banders are very pleased with the new, smaller diameters of size 0 and 1 bands, but they are dissatisfied with the quality of some bands, because the band numbers are sometimes barely legible. We agree that this is a problem, and we will continue to work with our contracting office and band manufacturers to solve this problem and the problem with band supply.

5. Threatened/Endangered Species Items

  1. In MTAB 75 we incorrectly implied that the Marbled Murrelet had been listed as Threatened throughout its range. The species has been listed as Threatened in California, Oregon, and Washington, but not in Alaska.
  2. Many banders, when coding the species number on their schedules, are including the "S" or "E" codes listed in the Bird Banding Manual, Figure 5-1a, pp 5-6 to 5-42. Including these letters with the species number is not necessary, and is sometimes confusing to data entry personnel. These letters are used solely to identify the birds for whom we continue to acknowledge subspecies ("S") and species on the Threatened/Endangered List ("E"). Thank you for not using these designations on the banding schedules.


Programs for monitoring populations of landbirds (e.g. the Breeding Bird Survey) provide information on relative changes (trends) in population size, but typically these programs do not provide needed information on recruitment and survival of birds. In response to this need, The Institute for Bird Populations initiated the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program. MAPS is a cooperative effort among North American bird banders to establish a continent-wide network of constant-effort mist-netting stations to capture and band landbirds during the breeding season. The design of this program is based on studies at a site in California and on the Constant Effort Sites ringing program in Britain. The National Biological Survey, BBL, and our Canadian counterparts endorse MAPS and are cooperating with the Institute to implement the program on a trial basis. 1994 is the third year of the trial. We estimate that about 300 MAPS banding stations are operating in 1994. We thank those banders who are participating in MAPS.

Additional experienced banders will be needed to operate MAPS banding stations next spring and summer. If you are interested in helping, contact the Institute for details (Mr. Ken Burton, Institute for Bird Populations, P.O. Box 554, Inverness, CA 94937, phone 415-663-1436). This is an excellent opportunity for banders to participate in an important cooperative project.

7. Enclosures

We did not produce a January MTAB in 1994. Traditionally, though, we have sent you one along with two enclosures, a current name and address form and a listing of birds banded under your permit. The purpose of the former was to verify that we had your current address and telephone number(s). The purpose of the latter was to find and reconcile possible differences between your and our records of your bandings. Each year through this process we discovered numerous erroneous records in the permittee and banding data bases. Processing these enclosures, however, involved considerable paperwork and staff time relative to the value accrued to us. We are abandoning these annual enclosures to help cope with reductions in staff and operating funds. If the address form and listing of birds banded were valuable to you, though, and you would like us to reconsider, please let us know. We plan to continue sending a January MTAB.

8. Product announcements

Bander Chris Rose, Sr. informs us that Chris Rose, Jr. has taken up production of the popular and practical Rose wing measuring device. Chris Jr. can be reached at Box 723 - Covey Hill, Bethel, ME 04217 (207-836-3413).

Bander Len Soucy (1390 White Bridge Road, Millington, NJ 07946) continues to supply leg gauges for proper determination of band sizes for $6.00 ppd.

Bander Roger MacDonald will no longer be manufacturing banding pliers for band sizes 0-4. These pliers may now be ordered from AVINET, Inc., P.O. Box 1103, Dryden, NY 13053-1103; phone and FAX (607) 844-3277. However, Roger is currently developing banding pliers for the larger sizes 6, 7A, and 7B, and is in search of banders who would like to test them in the field. Please contact him at (617) 334-3448 if you are interested.

AVENIX (14 Avenue de Montpellier 34680 St. Georges d'Orques, France (FAX 33-67-40-22-90) announces the availability of CR Version 1.5. CR, (for capture-recapture), is a menu based package for PCs. It provides easy access to advanced capture-recapture methodology which is a key point for many avian studies. For example, CR contains the SURGE model which is the analytical core of the MAPS program. CR has interface programs allowing data conversions, access to system functions, and on line help. It comes with a tutorial and user's manual. CR's output includes relative measures of fit, comparison of models, estimates of survival and recapture probabilities, coefficients of constraints, standard errors and confidence intervals.

9. Recent Literature

Several recent issues of ornithological and wildlife journals contain excellent papers reporting studies that employed banding as the principal means of data collection. For several examples, see the Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 57, Nos. 3 and 4, and Vol. 58, No. 1. Much of the success of these studies can be attributed to good study design, standardized, deliberate data collection, and the use of contemporary analytical models. Two more major works that will help banders improve their studies along these lines are now available:

Wildlife 2001: Populations edited by D.R. McCullough and R.H. Barrett (Elsevier Science Publishers, LTD, Essex, England, 1163pp) contains a good methods section and numerous exemplary case studies on passerines, seabirds, raptors and waterfowl. One paper, Grey Pendleton and John Sauer's "Black Duck population units as determined by patterns of band recovery" (pp. 689-695), will be of particular interest to those who draw inferences from distributions of band recoveries. The authors describe statistical techniques for testing for differences between recovery patterns.

Techniques for Wildlife Investigations: Design and Analysis of Capture Data by John Skalski and Douglas Robson considers the use of capture/recapture data to test hypotheses and draw inferences about sources of variation in animal abundance. The authors are two of the country's leaders in research on capture/recapture modeling. Their book addresses "(1) the need for quantitative criteria useful in designing effective field experiments with reasonable probabilities of success, and (2) the need for valid statistical methods of analyzing mark-recapture data in a hypothesis-testing framework." The 237pp Techniques is available from Academic Press (800-321-5068).

Also available from Academic Press is Lukas Jenni and Rafael Winkler's Moult and Ageing in European Passerines. It is described as a major reference for all bird ringers. Although the species accounts are European, the principles and techniques described have broad application.

A must for duck banders is Species, Age and Sex Identification of Ducks Using Wing Plumage by former bander Samuel M. Carney. Sam is considered by many to be the world's foremost authority on the subject. His 144p manual contains excellent color photographs that will be especially helpful to banders who handle ducks during the late fall, winter and spring when other age distinguishing criteria become less reliable. The manual is available for $23.00 from the Superintendent of Documents, USGPO Sales Division, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954.