Population Inventory and Monitoring
Bird Banding Laboratory

12100 Beech Forest Road

Laurel, Maryland 20708-4037

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


February, 1995


To: All Banders

From: Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory


  1. Communications to/from BBL
  2. Staff Changes
  3. Banding Items
  4. New Products
  5. MAPS
  6. Recent literature

1. Communications to/from BBL

Our agency's name has been changed from National Biological Survey to National Biological Service to better reflect its mission.

BBL now has an e-mail address. You may send correspondence, recovery reports, requests for bands, permits and banding data, etc. to: Enclosed is an updated list of telephone numbers for BBL as well as our mail and e-mail addresses. This has been printed separately on heavier stock for durability.

Please notify BBL of your address and/or telephone changes, including fax numbers and an e-mail addresses if you have them. Please inform us if there are any subpermittee changes (e.g, deletion). It is helpful when the permit number and daytime telephone are included in correspondence.

To reduce paperwork, the postcard acknowledgement (Form 3-860b) of schedules received in BBL and the MISMATCH (of alpha codes and species number) letter have been discontinued.

2. Staff Changes

BBL Biologist Danny Bystrak has retired after 26 years of service, 8 years with BBL. We hope that you enjoyed working with him as much as we did. Mary Gustafson is now on board in a permanent position as a BBL biologist. She is handling Auxiliary Marking, Schedule Editing (Biological Data), and Band Procurement.

3. Banding Items

If you use Loran or GPS (global positioning system) equipment to determine banding coordinates, please indicate Loran or GPS either in the location description or the "Remarks" section of the banding schedule, remembering to truncate coordinates to the 10 block. It is not necessary to send pinpoint maps for new locations if you are using this equipment. GPS technology is described in the February, 1995, issue of Sports Afield. See MTAB 71 for information on the Loran system.

Please add these Species Numbers to Part 5, Vol. I of your Bird Banding Manual

Hybrid Gull                        044.6     HYGU Size 6
Eurasian Collared Dove             315.9     ECDO Size 3
Prevost's Mango                    436.6     PRMA Size X
Unk Yellow-rumped Warbler          655.6     UYRW Size 0-1C
Townsend's x Hermit Warbler Hybrid 668.6     THWA Size 0A-0
Tinian Monarch                     856.0     TIMO Size 1
Mariana Crow                       857.0     MARC Size 3

In MTAB 76 the band size for Yellow-breasted Chat (#683.0) was changed 1B to 1B-1A-2. We have been advised that chats in the western U.S. rarely need a size 2. Please use size 2 only if a size 1A band would be too tight.

Please change the recommended band size for Ruddy Duck (#167.0) from 6 to 6-7A. Size 6 should be fine for females, but 7A seems to be a better fit for males.

We have designated several new band sizes: The new size 0 (2.0 mm) band is designated OA, and the old size 0 (2.1 mm.) remains 0. The new size 1 (2.3 mm.) is designated 1C, and the old size 1 (2.4 mm.) remains 1. A new intermediate band size (20.0 mm.) falling between 8 and 9 is designated 8A. These bands are primarily for use on Brown Pelicans and Northern Gannets. Specialty bands for Snowy Plovers, murres and razorbills are designated 1P, 5M and 6R respectively.

Len Soucy's leg gauges should work fine for the new sizes (e.g., 8A would be used if size 8 was too small and size 9 was too large).

Anyone banding parakeets and/or parrots should contact J. Michael Meyers, USDI, National Biological Service, Patuxent Environmental Science Center, P. O. Box N, Highway 191, KM 4.4, Palmer, Puerto Rico 00721-0501 for advice on a band design for these birds. Standard butt-end bands should not be used because they can cause injury to the tarsus.

Nestling (local = L) Peregrine Falcons and Merlins can be sexed. Please use sex U (unknown) if there is any uncertainty.

Gray Catbirds can be aged ASY by the primary and secondary covert color, but not by eye and mouth color.

House Finches should not be aged SY by plumage coloration. Diet is an important factor in plumage color. The orange/yellow and/or mixed red and yellow (and other variations) can occur at any age.

Common Yellowthroat males cannot be accurately aged SY by the buffy eyering. Both sexes can be aged HY/SY and AHY/ASY by rectrix shape. The Catharus thrushes and Dendroica warblers can also be aged by rectrix shape. Please use this criterion carefully; it takes some experience to become proficient with this technique.

Finally, we would like your advice or reports on: appropriate band size(s) for the Brown (CA) Towhee; techniques for ageing mallards ASY; and problems with injury to the tarsus or leg as a result of color bands (especially passerines). Send comments to Mary Gustafson at BBL.

4. New Products

Band Analysis System is a software package for those who analyze banding data. The program is menu driven and allows users to select options with a mouse. The program was written by Paul Geissler of NBS National Ecological Surveys Team and is at the alpha development stage, with emphasis on developing useful features. It selects banding and recovery records based on the species, age, sex, banding and recovery dates and locations and permit numbers as well as on codes for condition, status, how obtained and who and why reported. The data may be summarized and customized reports may be produced with the number of birds banded and recovered by any combination of species, age, sex, banding and recovery state or area and month or period. Direct reporting rates and proportional distribution of birds to recovery areas are provided. Survival and reporting rates can be estimated through an interface to the MULT program, which includes ESTIMATE and BROWNIE estimates. Maps of banding and recovery locations and maps of the numbers of birds banded and recovered by state can be produced with third party mapping packages and the data files output by this program. Band Analysis System is available by anonymous ftp from or by request from Paul Geissler at 301-497-5780 or


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 Service, BBL, and our Canadian counterparts endorse MAPS and are cooperating with the Institute to implement the program on a trial basis. 1995 will be the fourth year of the trial. We estimate that about 300 MAPS banding stations were operational in 1994. We thank those banders who are participating in MAPS.

Additional experienced banders are needed to operate MAPS banding stations this spring and summer. We especially need more stations in the southwest. If you are interested in helping, contact the Institute for details (Mr. Ken Burton, Institute for Bird Populations, P.O. Box 1346, Pt. Reyes Station, CA 94956, phone 415-663-1436 or FAX 415-663-9482). This is an excellent opportunity for banders to participate in an important cooperative project.

6. Recent Literature

In recent years there has been a substantial increase in interest in monitoring bird populations using mist netting and banding. Unfortunately, many banders or prospective banders do not know how to approach monitoring projects. (There is a lot more to it than simply commencing banding). Fortunately, three recently published field manuals should help improve the quality of monitoring projects. They are:

A Manual for Monitoring Bird Migration by J.D. McCracken, D.J.T. Hussell and E.H. Dunn, (1993) Long Point Bird Observatory, P.O. Box 160, Port Rowan, ON, Canada N0E 1M0. 65p.

Manual of Field Methods/European-African Songbird Migration Network (1994) by Franz Bairlein, Institut for Vogelforschung Vogelwarte Helgoland, An der Vogelwarte 21, 26386 Wilhelmshave, Germany. 26p.

Handbook of Field Methods for Monitoring Landbirds (1994) by C. J. Ralph, G. R. Geupel, P. Pyle, T. E. Martin, and D. F. DeSante. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station (Technical Report PSW-GTR-144). 41 p.

None provides a fail-safe formula for successful monitoring, but each provides excellent material on field techniques. Ralph et al's Handbook is the most comprehensive. We especially like their up front discussion of objectives of a monitoring program, some of which is well worth quoting here:

"We think that it is essential that people first determine why they might want to establish a census, mist netting, or nest searching program. Not everyone requires a monitoring program to meet their goals. We have sometimes seen the establishment of a monitoring program first, followed by an attempt to decide what type of information can be obtained. We very strongly suggest that, before a monitoring program is put in place, the following steps be carried out:

  1. decide the objectives and goals desired:
  2. determine whether monitoring is the way to accomplish these:
  3. with the goals firmly in mind write down the questions being asked clearly and objectively:
  4. determine which monitoring methods most directly answer the questions posed:
  5. review the types of data that can be obtained from these methods and outline exactly how these data will answer the questions:
  6. outline the analytical methods that can be employed:
  7. determine the cost, logistics, availability of personnel, and probable length of commitment to the project: and
  8. write a study plan and have it reviewed by a person competent in research and statistics.

This procedure is vital, because accumulation of a data base does not itself lead to meaningful analyses later. Steps 5, 6, 8 and the last sentence are especially important and should apply to any research endeavor involving banding. If you're not considering design and analysis in your banding projects, your results may not be meaningful or useful. See MTABS 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75 for some leads on study design and the use of contemporary analytical models in capture/recapture studies.

Numerous articles worth mentioning, but too numerous to comment on are listed below.

Age and Sex Determination in the Calliope Hummingbird (1994) by W. H. Baltosser. Western Birds 25:104-109.

Patterns of Stopover by Warblers during Spring and Fall Migration on Appledore Island, Maine (1994) by S. R. Morris, M. E. Richmond, and D. W. Holmes. Wilson Bull. 106:703-718.

Sex Determination by Wing and Tail Measurements in the Song Sparrow and Field Sparrow (1994) by H. B. Suthers. North American Bird Bander XIX:77-83.

Age and Sex Related Characteristics of the Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius l. ludovicianus) in Coastal Mississippi. (1994) by H. E. Slack, III. North American Bird Bander XIX:84-89.

Tie Ups and Tie Downs: A Method for Securing Rolled Nets (1994) by S. R. Blackshaw. North American Bird Bander XIX:99.

Sexual Size Dimorphism, Mate Choice, and Productivity of Burrowing Owls (1994) by D. L. Plumpton and R. S. Lutz. Auk 111:724-727.

Does Drugging Crows for Capture Cause Abnormally High Mortality? (1994) by K. J. McGowan and C. Caffrey. Journal of Field Ornithology 65:453-457.

Risks of Using Alpha-chloralose to Capture Crows (1994) by D. F. Caccamise and P. C. Stouffer. Journal of Field Ornithology 65:458-460.

Effects of Tail-mounted Radio-Tags on Adult Lesser Kestrels (1994) by F. Hiraldo, J. A. Donazar, and J. J. Negro. Journal of Field Ornithology 25:466-471.

Reliability of Aging Criteria by Feather Characteristics of Eastern Bluebirds (1994) by J. H. Plissner, S. J. Wagner, and P. A. Gowaty. Journal of Field Ornithology 65:504-507.

Sexual Dimorphism and Population Sex Rations in Juvenile Savannah Sparrows (1994) by N. T. Wheelwright, G. Trussell, J. P. Devine, and R. Anderson. Journal of Field Ornithology 65:520-529.

Effects of Back-mounted Radio Packages on Breeding Wood Ducks (1994) by J. H. Gammonley and J. R. Kelly, Jr. Auk 65:530-533.

Differential Band Wear for Male and Female Laughing Gulls (1994) by R. A. Dolbeer and J. L. Belant. Journal of Field Ornithology 65:543-550.

Portable Platforms for Setting Rocket Nets in Open-water Habitats (1994) by R. R. Cox, Jr. and A. D. Afton. Journal of Field Ornithology 65:551-555.

Identifying Sex and Age of Akiapolaau (1994) by T. K. Pratt, S. G. Fancy, C. K. Harada, G. D. Lindsey, and J. D. Jacobi. Wilson Bull. 106:421-430.

Nesting Success and Survival of Virginia Rails and Soras (1994) by C. J. Conway, W. R. Eddleman, and S. H. Anderson. Wilson Bull. 106:466-473.

Winter Movements and Spring Migration of American Woodcock along the Atlantic Coast (1994) by D. G. Krementz, J. T. Seginak, and G. W. Pendleton. Wilson Bull. 106:482-493.

Winter Survival Rates of a Southern Population of Black-capped Chickadees (1994) by E. S. Egan and M. C. Brittingham. Wilson Bull. 106:514-521.

The BBL address is:   
                  National Biological Service
                  Inventory and Monitoring
                  Bird Banding Laboratory
                  12100 Beech Forest Road, STE-4037
                  Laurel, MD 20708-4037

The BBL e-Mail Address:

BBL Telephone Numbers are:

MAIN OFFICE         301-497-5790
FAX                 301-497-5784
ANSWER MACHINE      301-497-5807
AUXILIARY MARKING   301-497-5804 (Mary Gustafson)
DATA REQUESTS       301-497-5795 (Kathy Klimkiewicz)
BANDING SCHEDULES   301-497-5794 (Karen Jones)
RECOVERY PROCESSING 301-497-5940 (Wendy Manear)
BAND SUPPLY         301-497-5805 (Peggy Powell)
PERMITS             301-497-5799 (Flo Soehnlein)
CHIEF               301-497-5790 (John Tautin)