LAUREL MD 20708-4037

FAX 301-497-5717


October, 1996


To: All Banders

From: Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL)


  1. 1-800-327-BAND
  2. The Legal Scope of Banding Permits
  3. Update to Species Numbers and Alpha Codes
  4. More About Band Sizes and Band Availability
  5. Submitting Banding Data and Related Matters
  6. Electronic MTAB
  7. Migration Monitoring
  8. Personnel Change
  9. New Band Type Codes
  10. Intern
  11. Address Change
  12. Recent Literature

1. 1-800-327-BAND

We are pleased to announce the availability of a toll free telephone number for reporting bird bands. One may call 1-800-327-BAND (2263) from anywhere in Canada, the United States and most parts of the Caribbean to report a bird band. We established this number as a uniform, convenient way to increase band reporting rates. Preliminary results from a 1995 trial where equal samples of mallards were banded with bands bearing the 1-800 number vs. bands bearing a conventional reporting address suggest that the 1-800 number prompts significantly more band reports from the public. In the final analysis we expect that the band reporting rate could be more than doubled. Thus, the 1-800 number will produce more and better data, and make field banding operations more cost effective.

We are expanding use of the 1-800 number in 1996 by listing the number in the 1-800 directory and on our home pages, and by advising conservation agencies, Flyway Councils, banders, and others of the number. Feel free to help promulgate the number. We have also made a limited number of 1-800 bands available to banders, with priority given to pre-hunting season mallard banding in Canada and the northern US, and to goose banding in northern and central Canada. In 1997 we hope to go fully operational with 1-800 bands being available for all species of larger sized birds, game and nongame. In the meantime, please continue to use your regular bands.

The sole purpose of 1-800-327-BAND is to make it convenient for people to report recoveries of your banded birds. Please do not use this number to call us about other matters. The 1-800 number is NOT for reporting pigeon bands. The Bird Banding Laboratory does not keep any records on the bands used on pigeons. Please refer people who want to report pigeon bands to the Avian Service Center at 1-405-670-9400.

2. The Legal Scope of Banding Permits

Some reminders about what banding permits authorize and do not authorize are in order.

A banding permit basically authorizes one to capture, band, or otherwise mark (with an auxiliary marking authorization), migratory birds subject to the conditions specified on the permit, in the North American Bird Banding Manual, and in the Code of Federal Regulations. One may also salvage dead birds and hold them for up to six months, a reasonable amount of time to get them reposited in a properly permitted collection. One may hold live birds up to 24 hours to care for them if they are not in condition for immediate release. And with specific authorization from BBL, a bander may also take blood and/or feather samples from birds. This presently is allowed under an informal agreement with the US Fish and Wildlife Service which has responsibility for scientific collecting permits. We are working to formalize (codify) this arrangement which has proven to be convenient for both banders and the government.

A banding permit does not authorize one to:

Many of these activities that are not authorized under a banding permit can be authorized under other migratory bird permits. If in doubt about what is or is not authorized, please call BBL or your US Fish and Wildlife Service regional migratory bird coordinator.

3. Update to Species Numbers and Alpha Codes.

In order to conform with taxonomic and nomenclature changes, please make the following corrections to the band size list that was sent out with MTAB 79. Our apologies for the mass of corrections to be made to that listing! PLEASE START USING THESE NEW SPECIES NUMBERS ON ALL SCHEDULES STARTING NOW!

New and revised Species Numbers and alpha codes to accommodate splits

     272.0 AMGP     American Golden-Plover             2-3
     272.1 PAGP     Pacific Golden-Plover              2-3
     272.9 LEGP     Lesser Golden-Plover               2-3
     462.1 CUPE     Cuban Pewee                        0-1C
     462.3 JAPE     Jamaican Pewee                     0-1C
     462.4 HIPE     Hispaniolan Pewee                  0-1C
     464.0 COFL     Cordilleran Flycatcher             0-0A
     464.1 PSFL     Pacific Slope Flycatcher           0-0A
     464.9 WEFL     Western Flycatcher                 0-0A
     479.0 FLSJ     Florida Scrub-Jay                  2-3
     481.1 ISSJ     Island Scrub-Jay                   3
     481.0 WESJ     Western Scrub-Jay                  2-3
     549.0 SSTS     Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow     1-1B         
     549.1 NSTS     Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow      1-1B            
     549.9 STSP     Sharp-tailed Sparrow               1-1B
     757.1 BITH     Bicknell's Thrush                  1B        
     757.9 GCBT     Gray-cheeked/Bicknell's Thrush     1B
     782.0 HAAM     Hawaii Amakihi                     1-1B-1A
     782.1 OAAM     Oahu Amakihi                       1-1B-1A
     783.0 KAAM     Kauai Amakihi                      1-1B-1A     
     796.0 AKEK     Akekee                             0 
Add AOU's    
     242.2 RNST     Red-necked Stint                   1B-1
     466.4 SWFL     Southwestern Willow Flycatcher     0         
     544.0 LBSP     Large-billed Sparrow               1C         
     546.4 FGSP     Florida Grasshopper Sparrow        1C-1         
     554.1 EWSP     Eastern White-crowned Sparrow      1B        
     587.6 URTO     Unknown Rufous-sided Towhee        2-1A         
     633.4 LBVI     Least Bell's Vireo                 0         
     746.1 JABW     Japanese Bush-Warbler              0         
     747.5 LANW     Lanceolated Warbler                0         
     742.4 OBNT     Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush   1B   


Alpha code updates

194.0 alpha code to GBHE 
368.0 alpha code to BDOW
507.8 alpha code to BBOH 
743.0 alpha code to BUSH
806.0 alpha code to LAVW   

Name and alpha code changes

055.1  Common Black-headed Gull to BHGU Black-head Gull    
121.0  Olivaceous Cormorant to NECO Neotropical Cormorant  
201.0  Green-backed Heron to GRHE Green Heron  
271.0  Greater Golden-Plover to EUGP Eurasian Golden-Plover   
327.0  American Swallow-tailed Kite to STKI Swallow-tailed Kite
365.0  Common Barn-Owl to BNOW Barn Owl   
377.0  Northern Hawk-Owl to NHOW Northern Hawk Owl 
419.0  Common Pauraque to PAUR Pauraque   
436.6  Prevosts Mango to GREM Green-breasted Mango  
473.0  Eurasian Skylark to SKLA Sky Lark    
535.4  Pallas' Reed-Bunting to PALB Pallas' Bunting    
535.5  Common Reed-Bunting to REBU Reed Bunting
587.0  Rufous-sided Towhee to EATO Eastern Towhee
697.0  Water Pipit to AMPI American Pipit 
698.3  Olive Tree-Pipit to OBPI Olive-backed Pipit   
858.0  Island Swiftlet to GUSW Guam Swiftlet  

Recommended Band Sizes, etc.

016.0 size 3B-3A
140.0 Change size to 4A - 5 for females  
246.0 Change size to 1B 
247.0 Change size to 1B  
592.0 Add size 2 as an alternate size 
741.0 Add 0A as an alternate size 
471.0 Add 0A as an alternate size 
715.0 Add 1C as an alternate size  
727.0 Make nestling period 26 days 
736.0 Add 1C as an alternate size 
858.0 Change size to 0A-X   

Address your comments on band size and taxonomic changes to Mary Gustafson.

4. More About Band Sizes and Band Availability

There seems to be some lingering confusion about band sizes. Currently, band sizes 0A, 0, 1C, 1, 1B, and 1A are all valid sizes with bands on order from manufacturers. Please specify the exact size that you want and only use new order forms with all sizes on them as sent out with the last MTAB. This will ensure that your order is filled correctly. Kinglets, Gnatcatchers and small warblers should only be banded with size 0A. If you received some bands from Lambournes with the size in mm on the outside and no US band size, you can identify the size by the last page of the new band size list that was sent out with the last MTAB.

Band availability continues to be a problem. Please do not add to the problem by ordering more than a 1-year supply. When bands are back-ordered, that means that we do not have any bands. Once bands have been back-ordered, please do not send another order. The bands will be sent as soon as they are available.

5. Submitting Banding Data and Related Matters


Please send any and all schedules for completed work as soon as possible. All 1995 banding data are overdue and should be sent to the BBL promptly (as well as earlier data). Schedules are all too routinely sent in at the end of the year. Data for all complete strings of 100 are due within 30 days of completion.

The official printed deadlines are as follows: The gamebird deadlines are especially important now that we have a 1-800 number for reporting band recoveries. We begin receiving calls within hours of the opening of hunting seasons.

    Game birds                          Schedules due

     banded Jan. 16 - June 30             July 15
     banded July 1 - Sept. 15             Monthly
     banded Sept. 16 - Jan. 15            Weekly
    Nongame birds

     Completed strings are due within 30 days, and all incomplete schedules 
     are due 30 days after completion of  the project for the year.  Schedules 
     for any bird that is recovered are due upon receipt of the "up-for-banding" 
     form letter (see next item).  Please send schedules for the requested 
     band and all previous bands that have been used and not reported.


BBL frequently receives band recovery reports before the bander has submitted the banding schedule(s). These are called "Up-for-Bandings". In the past, BBL has sent the bander a pink card (Form 3-860a) requesting banding data for the particular number. We followed up with a request for the banding schedule (Form BLL-20) if the schedule did not accompany or soon follow the bander's response to the pink card. As of September 3, 1996 both forms will be replaced by a single "Up-for-Banding" letter requesting a banding schedule. We ask your cooperation in promptly submitting your banding schedules so that we may respond positively to the band reporter with minimal delay.

Banding Locations:

The first time you report bandings at a new location, please identify these with an asterisk (*) in the location description block of the banding schedule. The Editing Section appreciates your assistance in this matter.

Computer programs for banders:

We are still having difficulties with BAND-OPS and are again asking banders that are trying this new system to get a new copy of the program from the www site at [site and program no longer available 2004] or request a copy from Sabina Resau, National Ecological Surveys Team, Gabrielson Lab, 12100 Beech Forest Road Ste-4038, Laurel MD 20708-4038 301-497-5781, Fax Number 301-497-5784. Any program requested after June 10 is current. We can only process data from the newest version. The appropriate file to be submitted to BBL is an ASCII file, Pnnnnn.ASC, created by the program where nnnnn is your permit number. Label your disk with your name, permit number, record count and "BAND-OPS". Hard copies of schedules and banding location tables are required.

An updated species file will be sent to all CGS (computer-generated schedule) program users. Instructions for replacing the old file will be included.

Look-up tables:

Many banders are using look-up tables or Macros to assign AOU numbers to alpha codes or the reverse. Please use caution when using these features, as one mistyped character in an alpha code can lead to reporting the wrong species. Just ask all the banders that have recently reported banding Bachman's Warbler BAWA when they meant to type BWWA or BAWW. Also, check to see what happens with your own system if you modify the alpha code or the AOU in existing data. Which one does the computer change to match? If you use such conveniences you should check your data carefully before sending it, and you should be aware of its limitations!

New AOU's and file update:

For the following AOU's we are interested in updating our files to include records that may not have been previously computerized. Banders who have banded Barred x Spotted Owl hybrids prior to the new alpha code/AOU number should inform Karen Jones, editing section, of the band numbers of these hybrids so that they can be added to the file. Also, banders who have banded California Gnatcatcher as Black-tailed Gnatcatcher should notify us of these band numbers or locations if they have not already done so.

How You Can Help Us:

Please be as careful as you can when entering data onto schedules from field sheets. Transcription errors are a major cause of correspondence here at the lab. Errors in band numbers, species number, alpha codes, and ages are caught by edits, and transcription errors are a real problem.

Correspondence on the age/sex edit and data modification are back-logged but should be caught up soon. Thanks for your patience. Please help us by careful use of age L for all nestling or unflighted birds, and reserve HY for young capable of sustained flight. Remember that age 3 does not exist, and HY and U should not be used between January 1 and the start of the nesting season! Careful review of your final schedules before sending them is always a good idea.

Please do not use the wing chord data given in Pyle et al. to sex birds, especially HY's! Instead, use these data as a guide to species where you can work up data for sexing AHY's in your area, and either publish your data or send it to the BBL for approval before using it sex any birds. Data for AHY's should not be used to sex HY's, especially HY-F's. Remember that some of the information in Pyle et al. is not acceptable in the BBL! If you did not read about it in an MTAB, your data could be questioned or changed (and yes, you will be notified). The BBL is working to ensure that all information in the second edition of Pyle is acceptable in the BBL at the time of publication (hopefully in time for MAPS next year!).

When is a Yellow-rumped Warbler not a Yellow-rumped Warbler?

Banders are reminded that we have subspecies listed for several species. All too often banders use the wrong subspecies for their area or use the unknown option for all birds when it is only to be used for intermediate individuals. When there is an "unknown" option included, as in, Unknown Yellow-rumped Warbler (655.6) or Unidentified Dark-eyed Junco (567.7), this option should only be used for intermediates or

inderminate individuals. Another continuing problem is Rufous-sided Towhee, where the eastern subspecies (now species) has been commonly reported in the west instead of Spotted Towhee. With the new name change to Eastern Towhee this should be less of a problem. For species where vocalization is the best way to identify the new species, banders should use the overall name (e.g. Traill's Flycatcher or Western Flycatcher) for migrants within the area where both Alder and Willow, or Pacific-slope and Cordilleran Flycatchers occur in migration.

6. Electronic MTAB

Do you have e-mail? Are you willing to receive your future MTABs electronically? As an added feature of our new system, subpermittees are also able to sign up for their own direct MTAB by e-mail. The BBL has set up a server for official BBL use. This server has been specifically set up to send MTABs by e-mail to all interested banders. All banders, including subpermittees and agency banders can receive the MTAB electronically by clicking here to sign up.  Once this list is in use, a general survey will be sent to participants regarding the sort of postings that they would like to receive on that list--if any. Please tell your subpermittees and Agency banders about the availability of this service. Remember, they may have e-mail even if you do not! Distributing MTAB's electronically will save paper, printing costs, postage and personnel time as well as allowing direct distribution to subpermittees.

7. Migration Monitoring

The Migration Monitoring Council, a joint cooperative program of the US and Canada, asks your help in determining the number and distribution of stations in North and Latin America that are actively monitoring the migration of birds. In this, they include the use of capture and banding, as well as counts of birds, at intensive field sites including bird observatories. This information is important in developing a cooperative program that tracks long term changes in landbird populations. They want information on sites that have been, or will be, operated regularly over at least several days during the spring or fall migration seasons. If you can provide information on migration monitoring sites, please contact Peter Blancher, Canadian Wildlife Service, NWRC, Hull, Quebec K1A 0H3 Canada (Fax: 819-953-6612; e-mail:, or contact C. John Ralph, US Forest Service, Redwood Sciences Laboratory, 1700 Bayview Drive, Arcata CA 95521 (Fax: 707-822-5268; e-mail: You can also respond via a web site:, click on birds, then go to migration monitoring.

8. Personnel Change

Band supply clerk Peggy Powell has accepted a new position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We will miss Peggy, and we wish her the best in her new position. We welcome Sylvia Windham as our new band supply clerk. Sylvia was formerly our Data Entry supervisor. Band orders may now be sent to Sylvia's attention.

9. New Band Type Codes

Several years ago, BBL redid the band size specifications and added several new band sizes. At that time we replaced the Avise address with a more complete one with the hope that a better address would allow more band reports to reach us. We are now using a toll-free telephone number on the larger band sizes and have been successful in getting some smaller bands in a harder metal alloy. These changes necessitated additional type codes and the system previously used was no longer sufficient. Please replace Figure 3-1, BBM Vol I, pg 3-4 with the enclosed band type code list.

10. Intern

The BBL is starting a new internship program offering interested persons the chance to volunteer in the BBL. All projects in the foreseeable future are indoors working with data and computers and not in the field, but interns are welcome to participate in field projects at Patuxent as time allows. Housing and a stipend of $10 per day can be provided; housing is usually available September to May but not during the summer. Length of appointment is somewhat flexible, especially for those with previous knowledge of birds and/or banding. Those with little to no experience are asked to make a longer commitment of 12 weeks, while appointments as short as two weeks may be possible. The Bird Banding Laboratory and all housing is located at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel MD. Patuxent has extensive woods and marshes and is located midway between Washington DC and Baltimore. Interested persons are encouraged to send a letter of interest to the BBL with dates of availability.

11. Address Change

Note that our address has been changed again. On October 1, 1996, the administrative responsibility for BBL was transferred from Inventory and Monitoring at headquarters, Washington, D.C., to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center at Laurel, MD. On the same date, BBL, along with Patuxent and the rest of the National Biological Service, was transferred to the US Geological Survey. Our physical location, phone numbers and e-mail addresses remain the same for now. Thank you for bearing with us during the organizational changes, budget cuts and staff cuts of the last three years.

12. Recent Literature

The Journal of Applied Statistics, Vol. 22, No.s 5 and 6, 1995, 1081 pages, is a special issue devoted to statistical analyses of data from marked birds. It contains the 40 state-of-the-art papers presented at the 1994 EURING Technical Conference held here at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD. The papers cover estimation and modeling of avian survival, movement and recruitment; the application of ringing studies to evolutionary ecology and the conservation and management of bird populations; and the development of associated computer software. A limited number of copies are available for those with a serious interest in these technical subjects. Contact Dr. James Nichols, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Merriam Lab, 11510 American Holly Drive, Laurel, MD 20708-4017, phone number (301) 497-5660, e-mail address:

If you are not interested in the statistics of transition probabilities, or how the POPAN-4 program works, etc., but you like a good human interest story, then four fairly recent books by long time banders might appeal to you.

Oregon bander Jim Anderson wrote Tales from a Northwest Naturalist in 1992. It has great pictures and numerous stories about various adventures and misadventures in banding and other outdoor endeavors. Caxton Printers, Ltd. Caldwell, ID 83605.

In the 1930s, Wisconsin bander Fran Hamerstrom traded the genteel life of Boston society for "love, adventure and public service in the unmapped wilds of central Wisconsin." She became a pioneer raptor biologist and bander, and author of 12 books and 150 papers. Now she has written her story, My Double Life: Memoirs of a Naturalist. 1994. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison 53715.

Michigan bander Fred Ludwig received his banding permit in 1924. Hundreds of thousands of birds later, he's still going and has written his life story in the 1995 The Life and Times of a Country Doctor. It contains much on his experiences as a WWII medical officer in the Pacific. Walkabout Ink, Port Huron, MI 48060.

California bander H. Elliot McClure's 1995 book is Stories I like to Tell: An Autobiography. It contains much on the natural history and peoples of southeast Asia, where he banded thousands of birds and ran the original MAPS project, the Migratory Animals Pathological Survey. Elliot McClure, 69 E Loop Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010.

Four easy reading, delightful books from four great banders. We thank them for all they have done for birds, and for sharing their lives with us. Banders are the most interesting people!


00 = unknown\unknown 
01 = aluminum\butt-end toll free
02 = aluminum\lock-on toll free  
03 = aluminum\tall toll free  
04 = aluminum\butt-end new address
05 = aluminum\lock-on new  address
06 = aluminum\rivet toll free
07 = aluminum\short toll free   
08 = aluminum\pre-open toll free 
09 = aluminum\short new address
10 = aluminum\rivet new address
11 = aluminum\butt end
12 = aluminum\lock-on
13 = aluminum\tall  
14 = aluminum\wrap around  
15 = aluminum\flipper
16 = aluminum\rivet 
17 = aluminum\short
18 = aluminum\pre-open
19 = aluminum\tall new address
20 = aluminum\pre-open new address
21 = monel\butt end 
22 = monel\lock-on
23 = monel\butt-end toll free
24 = monel\lock-on toll free
28 = monel\pre-open
29 = monel\pre-open toll free
31 = titanium\butt end  
49 = incoloy or Stainless\new address 
50 = incoloy or  Stainless\butt-end  new address
51 = incoloy or Stainless\butt end 
52 = incoloy or Stainless\lock on
53 = incoloy or  Stainless\butt-end  toll free
54 = incoloy or  Stainless\lock-on  toll free
55 = incoloy or  Stainless\flipper   
56 = incoloy or  Stainless\rivet   
57 = incoloy or  Stainless\rivet toll free
58 = incoloy or  Stainless\triangular toll free 
59 = incoloy or  Stainless\triangular
60 = bimetallic\no address 
61 = bimetallic\butt end 
62 = bimetallic\lock-on 
63 = bimetallic\tall   
64 = incoloy or Stainless\triangular  new address 
66 = bimetallic\rivet  
67 = bimetallic\short  
68 = bimetallic\pre-open  
71 = bimetallic\butt end toll free 
72 = bimetallic\lock-on toll free  
73 = bimetallic\tall toll free
76 = bimetallic\rivet toll free    
77 = bimetallic\short toll free   
78 = bimetallic\pre-open toll free
91 = misc\butt end  
99 = No band manufactured (e.g. vulture bands)