LAUREL MD 20708-4037

FAX 301-497-5717


January, 1996


To: All Banders

From: Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL)


1. Furlough News and BBL Temporary Shutdown

2. Band Size Listing

3. Bands and Banding Supplies

4. BH Powell's BAND-OPS Program

5. Banding Lat-Long Coordinate Edit

6. Report-to-Bander Listing and Quarterly Report


8. EBBA & IBBA Joint Meeting

9. Radio Transmitter Users

10. Home Page

11. How You Can Help Us

12. Requesting Auxiliary Marking

13. Web Sites

14. New Products and Recent Literature  

1. Furlough News and BBL Temporary Shutdown.

BBL was closed for approximately four weeks due to the partial government shutdown and a blizzard. We are sorry for any inconveniences this posed for banders. We certainly found it inconvenient to be gone for so long. As you might expect, we have a large backlog of work in several areas, including band recovery processing, schedule processing, band orders and permit actions. We are working overtime to catch up and do not expect any major disruptions of service. 

2. Band Size Listing

BBL has been working on a revised band size listing to include the new 0A and 1C sizes as well as the old 0 and 1 sizes. The rest of the new sizes, 5R, 6M, 8A, etc. are also included in the new list. Please replace the pages in your manual with the enclosed revised pages. (Reminder: many banders did not replace the old status code pages when new pages were provided 3 years ago, and old status codes are still being reported as a result).

For some species multiple band sizes are recommended. The most commonly used size is listed first, and alternate sizes follow. Until all band sizes are available, a bander lacking a recommended size should choose between two adjacent sizes. Note that all banders should use size 0A bands on those species with small feet where it has been suggested that size 0 may be lost over the foot or interfere with the foot. Birds that should not be banded with any other size than 0A include kinglets and gnatcatchers. Banders choosing not to use size 0A should release these birds unbanded. The new smaller size was specifically created for the benefit of these species.

Banders are not required to use all 4 sizes (0A, 0, 1C, 1), and all sizes are not currently available but have been ordered by BBL. If you do not think that all sizes are needed for your banding you may omit a size as long as you do not place an unsafe band size on a bird as a result.

Remember that geographical variation may result in band sizes in your area varying slightly from the list. Some populations and some individual birds may require a size that is different from the recommended size. The band size that is appropriate to the individual bird is the size that should be used on that bird. Also, some ground feeding birds can get dirt caught within the band. A larger size allows for the dirt to fall out of the band, which results in larger sizes being recommended than may be required to fit the bird's leg. The most commonly reported species with this problem are towhees, House Finch and Golden-crowned Sparrows. Strong-billed birds may also benefit from a larger and more sturdy band (e.g. some banders recommend size 2 for Cardinals). If a larger size is used because experience has shown that it may be needed, it should not be so large as to be in danger of sliding over the foot. If a size other than a recommended size is used, please add a comment to the remarks section of the schedule.

There are some changes to be found in this species list. Extinct birds have been removed, and some additional species have been added. Additions include Snow x Ross' Goose hybrid (170.3), Spotted x Barred Owl hybrid (368.6), Bicknell's Thrush (757.9), California Gnatcatcher (753.0), Hybrid Skua (855.2), Island (Mariana Gray) Swiflet (858.0), Nightingale Reed-Warbler (859.0), Micronesian Megapode (860.0). The Brown Towhee (591.0) has been split into the Canyon (591.0) and California (591.1) Towhees. Banders should start using the new alpha codes and AOU numbers for this split immediately. Existing files for Brown Towhee, Bicknell's Thrush, and California Gnatcatcher will be updated in the future. Additional splits required to conform to the AOU Check-List will also be made at a later date.

Massive updates to the files will be required prior to making these changes. Banders should note that only hybrids with large numbers banded of identifiable hybrids and a long-term research need will be added to the file. It is not possible to accommodate every banding of every hybrid combination within the computer file.

Please send recommendations for changes to this list of band sizes to Mary Gustafson.

  3. Bands and Banding Supplies

We are still experiencing delays in receiving bands previously ordered from manufacturers, and due to current budget restrictions we are unable to order more bands. Banders should not make matters worse by stockpiling bands. Orders for more than a one year supply of bands will not be filled.

Bands should only be ordered by the Master Permittee except in extraordinary circumstances. A special form is not needed to order bands. Band orders can be sent by FAX (301-497-5717) or e-mail ( as well as US mail. Please be sure to specify the size and quantity desired, a justification, and your permit number. Incoloy (hard metal) size 2 bands are available from the BBL free of charge for existing or long-term research projects.

Due to budget limitations, BBL is no longer supplying large post-paid envelopes for banding schedules. Please do not request large post-paid envelopes as we do not have any to send to you and will not be able to supply them.

  4. BH Powell's BAND-OPS Program

We'd like to thank the multitude of banders who have started using BH Powell's BAND-OPS computer schedule program. We believe that with a new revision of BH's program the BBL will be able to accept data on disk from BAND-OPS. If you have BH's program, all you need to do is get a new version of the program either off the internet (see address under "How you can help us") or by sending us a blank disk. We should be able to process data from this program as soon as you get the new revised program. Hard copies of schedules are still required. Be sure to label your disk with your name, permit number, and "BAND-OPS". Your disk will be returned when we have completed processing the data.

  5. Banding Lat-Long Coordinate Edit

BBL has a new computer edit in place that determines whether banding coordinates provided by a specific permit have been used in the past 10 years. This procedure reduces manual edits and expedites the processing of banding data. Coordinates that are identified as not used during this 10 year period are rejected and verified. Verified data are subsequently added to the database. When corrections are necessary banders will be notified via Amended Banding Schedule Evaluation Sheets.

For EACH NEW SET OF COORDINATES reported on a schedule, please provide the appropriate Bird Banding Office with one copy of a map showing banding sites. This helps us to determine and verify banding coordinates. The bander's name and permit number should be written on each map submitted.

We ask your cooperation in being particularly careful when determining banding locations and coordinates. Most importantly, make sure that the Lat-Long on the schedules is correct as it is no longer verified against the written description of the location.

  6. Report-to-Bander Listing and Quarterly Report

We have had many requests from banders to revamp the Report-to-Bander Listing as well as the Quarterly Report (sent primarily to state agencies). Hopefully we will have time during the summer to work on this task. One change that BBL would like to propose is a quarterly Report-to-Bander Listing. Other possibilities include providing the data on disk rather than a paper listing, and making the listing more user friendly. We could translate the codes or omit some such as direction unless it is other than 0. We are sure that you have good ideas, and we request that you send them to Kathy Klimkiewicz no later than June 1, 1996.

  7. MAPS

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. 1996 will be the fifth year of the trial. We estimate that over 300 MAPS banding stations were operational in 1995. 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.

  8. EBBA & IBBA Joint Meeting.

The Eastern and Inland Bird Banding Associations will hold a joint meeting April 12-14, 1996, at the Patuxent National Wildlife Visitor Center, Laurel, Maryland. The Center is located close to BBL, and we will have an open house for banders during the meeting. An excellent program is shaping up with interesting papers, demonstrations of computer software (Band-ops), and fun events. There will be opportunities to discuss important current issues such as monitoring programs, the formation of the North American Banding Council and the Review of the North American Bird Banding Program. For more information see the July-September issue of the North American Bird Bander or contact Barbara Ross, 308 Thornhill Road, Baltimore, MD 21212 (410-435-7166). We hope to see you at the meeting. The state of the art National Wildlife Visitor Center itself will be worth the trip.

  9. Radio Transmitter Users

Eric Walters of the Department of Biology at the University of Victoria would like information from radio transmitter users. He would like to have the following information from studies of birds using telemetry: Species; geographic location;tag attachment; tag specifications; capture technique; method of monitoring; equipment used; type of data collected (location, heart rate, etc); method of data analysis; effects on study animal; problems, recommendations, hints, etc; resulting publications. Telemetry users can contact Eric Walters by mail, 3 Cranney St., Maple Ontario, L6A 1A6 CANADA, e-mail; Phone/FAX 905-303-1018. 

10. Home Page.

BBL is developing a computer Home Page to provide on-line information to the public and banders. You can access the BBL Home Page at We expect the Home Page to be an expanding development, and we would appreciate your ideas on what information might be useful to you and/or the public. Call, write, or better yet, send your comments via e-mail to

  11. How you can help us

BBL issues Subpermits in part to ease administrative costs and minimize the number of contacts necessary to conduct business with banders; we prefer to communicate directly with the Master permittee, or, where this is not practical, at least to know that the Master concurs with a subpermittee's request. Thus, subpermittees should not independently order bands, request Auxiliary Marking Authorizations, or telephone the Bird Banding Laboratory without first contacting the Master Bander. Unnecessary requests are burdensome, particularly if we must go back to a Master permittee to confirm a subpermittee's request. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Also, any correspondence with the BBL should include your permit number. This greatly helps us with everything in the computer. While we recognize you as an individual, our computer does not without your permit number!

If you have not provided us with your e-mail address or fax number, we would like to have it on file. Many games of "telephone tag" can be avoided with e-mail. If you have access to the internet, please send us your address to; all BBL correspondence can be directed to

At this time we cannot take schedules by e-mail or FAX. Please send your hard copies the old fashioned way by trusting the US Post Office or other ground carrier.

If you haven't tried BH Powell's new Band-ops program computer schedule program, why not request a copy to test from Sabina Resau (301) 497-5781, or down load it from the internet at: [site and program no longer available 2004]. Sending us disk copies of your schedules saves data entry time and increases legibility over hand written schedules.

12. Requesting Auxiliary Marking Authorizations.

Any bander who wants to use any marker on a bird must coordinate their activity through the Bird Banding Laboratory and have an Auxiliary Marking Letter of Authorization issued to them prior to any marking. This includes (but is not limited to) dyes, color bands, patagial markers, neck collars, nasal markers, web tags, pit tags, and radio transmitters. Any marking of an endangered species requires an endangered species permit listing the same markers and colors in addition to the Letter of Authorization. The bander is also responsible for any state permit that may be required for color marking and for responding to requests for information for the life of the markers.

The auxiliary marking Letter of Authorization does not allow the bander to mark previously banded birds, even if they were banded on the same permit. The reason for this restriction is that the original status of the bird is then invalid, and the bird is no longer a normal wild bird, etc. Any bander who has a real need to mark previously banded birds should send a request for permission to do so with a justification of the need and number of previously banded individuals to be marked. An Auxiliary Marking Letter of Authorization only applies to birds banded on your permit, you may not mark birds banded under other permits. If more than one Master permit will be cooperating on the research, a joint request may be sent from all permits. Marking may be shared between permits by requesting that color marking from one permit be duplicated on another permit. This does not require a complete new request and justification, but a written request from the bander with the marking authorization is necessary.

To request permission to mark birds, send a copy of your research proposal or an outline of your proposed research. Be sure that there is sufficient information presented to describe your need to mark, justify your chosen marker as the least invasive marker for the proposed research, and the type of data that will be collected. Other necessary information to include with your request is the species to be marked; type of marker(s); colors for each marker and species; geographic location of the research including county(s), parrish(s), or a description of the geographic area; proposed start date and completion date of project; a summary of the experience of the person who will be applying the markers. For radios, omit color and include the MHZ band and attachment. All transmitter authorizations are written for transmitters to not exceed 3% of the bird's body weight. Any heavier transmitter must include a justification of the increased weight and is labelled as an experimental use.

Be sure to use the least invasive marker possible to allow you to conduct your research. Temporary markers (and attachments) are preferred to permanent markers and are quicker to coordinate. Please allow 4 weeks for initial processing of your request. If there are banders using similar markers in a similar geographic area, you will be sent a letter notifying you, and directing you to contact all the existing researchers to coordinate colors and marking schemes. You must then contact these banders and after agreeing on a coordination plan, call Mary Gustafson. Only after the Letter of Authorization is issued are you allowed to mark the requested species.

Color marking can be requested by e-mail, FAX, or in writing. It cannot be requested by telephone. Direct correspondence to or FAX 301-497-5717. If you have questions, call Mary at 301-497-5804.

  13. Web sites.

Please share your favorite useful web sites with the BBL. Send suggestions to, and we'll provide the highlights in a future MTAB. We'll share two of our favorite sites with you now. These sites provide exact latitude and longitude for physical and geographic locations. The Canadian Geographical Names site is useful for Canadian lat-longs at . Geographic Names Information System is useful for US locations with locations from 7.5 minute topographic maps. This site has a link to an international latitude/longitude program and is at

14. New Products and Recent Literature.

POPAN-4, population analysis software developed by A.N. Arnason and C. J. Schwartz, is available in a Windows version. The POPAN system is a sophisticated, powerful tool for analyzing mark-recapture data. For more information or a free copy contact A. N. Arnason, Department of Computer Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2 (

In the July-September issue of the North American Bird Bander Bob Yunick reports on Retrix Shape as a Criterion for Determining Age of the Pine Siskin. Bander David Pitts reports on the pros and cons of under tail mounting of radio transmitters on bluebirds. Banders Stuart Houston and Josef Schmutz present an extensive analysis of long-term banding data for Swainson's Hawks. And bander Vince Bauldry collaborates with University of Wisconsin biologists to analyze his 27 year data set on eastern Bluebirds. Bauldry banded adult bluebirds as well as chicks, adding considerable value to his data set.