LAUREL MD 20708-4037

FAX 301-497-5717


November, 1999


To: All Banders

From:Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL)


  1. Band Supply
  3. North American Banding Council
  4. Some Reminders
  5. Updates to the Species, Alpha Code and Band Size Tables
  6. Changes to Recommended Band Sizes
  7. Neck Collar Request
  8. Radio Transmitters
  9. Database Updates
  10. Size 1C Bands Discontinued

1. Band Supply

As many of you are painfully aware, we are understocked in many band sizes. This is due primarily to manufacturer difficulties. To get bands into the hands of banders who urgently need them, we have been contacting banders who may have excess supplies, asking them to return bands for reissue to others. So, if you have an excess quantity of bands of any size, please return them to the BBL for reissue. As a guide, your supply of bands for a given size should be the highest annual usage, plus 20% as a maximum excess. Any bands that you can return will be greatly appreciated by us and needy banders.

In the meantime, we continue to press manufacturers to fill our orders, and to seek alternative sources of bands. Regarding the latter, there are some promising developments. Two companies that temporarily could not produce what we need have recently informed us that they are up and running again. Additionally, we are exploring the possibility of a federal inter-agency partnership to produce bands. If this develops, we should eventually have better control over both production schedules and quality of bands.


We hope that by now you have tried the copy of BAND MANAGER that we sent you in July. Initial reactions from most banders who have tried it are favorable, and some banders are already sending electronic schedules generated by BAND MANAGER. It is important that all banders begin using BAND MANAGER, because we are phasing out our data entry section, and within a year or so will not be able to accept paper banding schedules. FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) are answered on the web at (call the Band Manager hotline at 301-497-5845 to request this document if you don't have web access). The update to the program to correct bugs and update tables is available to download at the Band Manager Home Page at Diskettes with the update can be requested from the Band Manager hotline.

Band-Ops users should immediately convert to using BAND MANAGER. This is quick and easy because the conversion utility in Band Manager will import banding data from Band-Ops. Band-Ops users will, however, need to add their banding locations and their unused band inventory to BAND MANAGER manually. Band-Ops users can import locations but it may be more difficult than it's worth if you are only banding at a few sites. For information go to the FAQ site for Band-Ops users on the web at To facilitate these data entries, Band-Ops users should select REPORTS [4] from the main menu and then successively select [2] Band Inventory and [3] Banding Locations. Print the list of unused bands and the list of banding locations. This will make it easy to set up your BAND MANAGER application. CGS users should also start using BAND MANAGER as we will no longer update the CGS or Band-Ops programs.

Recall that in our January 6, 1999, letter we informed you that we will be adopting a one minute standard for reporting latitude and longitude for banding locations. In anticipation of this, BAND MANAGER has been programmed to accept latitude and longitude values to full degree, full minute, and full seconds. Although BAND MANAGER currently outputs banding locations at the current ten minute standard, we encourage you to begin entering one minute (or finer) locations now to be ready for the day when our new database is operational and we begin accepting one minute locations. If you are unsure of the coordinates of your banding sites and do not have a map from which you can accurately determine them, you may contact (301-497-5782) for assistance.

We expect to distribute a MAC version of BAND MANAGER in December to those who have requested one.

To reduce spending, we will discontinue mailing BAND MANAGER diskettes back to banders after the banding data are processed, unless the bander requests their return.

3. North American Banding Council

BBL and BBO continue to work closely with the North American Banding Council (NABC) to develop a Bander Training and Certification Program. Considerable progress has been made during the past year. Training manuals have been prepared, charter trainers have been designated, the first banders and trainers were tested and certified at the Inland and Western Bird Banding Association meetings in September. In a future communication, we will tell you more about the program and how banding office plans and policies will relate. In the meantime, you can follow NABC progress on their web site at (part 3).

4. Some Reminders

Gallinaceous birds (quail, grouse, turkeys, et al.) should not be banded with federal bands. This is because these birds are not covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and therefore do not fall under the purview of BBL and the Canadian Bird Banding Office (BBO). Banders who would like to band Gallinaceous birds should contact the appropriate state or provincial conservation agency office for direction, permits and bands.

Black and Turkey Vultures should never be leg banded. These birds have a habit of defecating on their legs which puts them at risk for leg injuries if they are banded. If you need to mark vultures, contact BBL biologist (301-497-5804) for alternatives to leg banding.

Birds that cannot be identified to species should be released unbanded. This means that birds should be identified first, and then banded, especially the often hard to differentiate Empidonax flycatchers. Hybrids may be banded, and should be reported using a hybrid species number. Please include suspected parentage in the remarks. Researchers working in a hybrid zone should contact Mary Gustafson prior to reporting numbers of hybrids.

Please submit banding schedules promptly, especially for gamebirds. If we have notified you that a recovery has come in for which the banding data are outstanding, please send a schedule immediately. Currently, we cannot complete processing of about 2,000 band recoveries, because the banding data are outstanding, and we cannot send the reporter a Certificate of Appreciation. This is a serious practical and public relations problem. BAND MANAGER should make it easier for you to maintain banding records and submit them to us in a timely manner.

Please remember that band replacements should be reported on schedules only. Reporting a replaced band as an encounter (via Form 3-1807, e-mail, or the 1-800 line) causes problems for us. We are current on processing replaced bands and you should receive a certificate with banding details in a timely fashion. Replaced bands that need to be etched should be sent with schedules.

Communications to BBL from you, the Master personal permittee or individual responsible for your Master station permit, should come directly from you and not through your subpermittees. Subpermittees should not order bands, call about preparation of schedules, or request permit revisions or auxiliary marking authorizations. They should consult with you when they have questions or needs.

The suffix of BBL e-mail addresses has changed from to If in doubt as to which person to direct your mail to, please use E-mail is the most convenient way for most of us to communicate. Please notify us of changes in your e-mail address, home telephone,

work telephone, fax number, or mailing address by contacting (301-497-5799), or simply include the information with your next band order and indicate the address is new.

5. Updates to the Species, Alpha Code and Band Size Tables

  023.1  Long-billed Murrelet          LBMU    3B 3 
  070.6  Hybrid Tern                   HYTE    band size 
                                               varies (remark on parentage required)
  072.5  Hybrid Common x Roseate Tern  HCRT    2
  169.8  Blue Greater Snow Goose,      BGSG
         Blue Phase
  558.6  Zonotrichia Sparrow Hybrid    ZSHY
         (includes Junco x WTSP)   
  767.6  Hybrid Bluebird               HYBL    1B 1A
  879.0  Micronesian Kingfisher        MICK
  998.6  Hybrid Nonpasserine           HYNO    band size
                                               varies (remark on parentage required)
  999.6  Hybrid Passerine              HYPA    band size
                                               varies (remark on parentage required)

Change 489.1 to Tamaulipas Crow, TACR 
Change 739.0 to Grey-headed Chickadee, GHCH

6. Changes to Recommended Band Sizes

  112.0  White-tailed Tropicbird           4,3A,3B,3
  158.0  Spectacled Eider                  7A-6
  162.0  King Eider                        7A-6
  315.1  Spotted Dove                      4-3A
  391.0  Green Kingfisher                  2-1A ** size 2 must be
                                                   filed shorter to fit  tarsus
  418.0  Common Poorwill                   1A-2
  622.6  Japanese White-eye                0A-0
  746.1  Japanese Bush-Warbler             M1 F0
  781.0  Maui Parrotbill                   1B-1A
  782.0  Hawaii Amakihi                    1-1C
  792.0  Maui Creeper                      1-1C
  801.0  Crested Honeycreeper              1A 
  802.0  Apapane                           1-1C
  804.0  Poouli                            1B  
  811.0  Nutmeg Mannikin                   0-0A

Size 2 bands may be too tall for White-throated Swifts and may require shortening for safe use, similar to Green Kingfishers. Size 4 may be too large for some White-tailed Tropicbirds, band size 3A, 3B or even 3 may be appropriate. Please send comments on band size to Mary Gustafson

The British Trust for Ornithology's Spring 98 Ringer's Bulletin included a notice that Ruddy Turnstones should be ringed above the "knee", but waterfowl should never be ringed above the "knee" because of seasonal changes in leg musculature.

7. Neck Collar Request

If you use unique alpha numeric codes on neck collars on geese or other birds, please provide us an electronic file matching codes with band numbers. These files will be used to compile look ups for reports of live sightings of neck collars across the USA and Canada. Please provide the following information: band number, neck collar color, code color, codes, pattern of collar (all in a row, broken 1 horizontal 2 vertical etc) in an ASCII or comma delimited file. Eventually, this will be simplified through BAND MANAGER.

8. Radio Transmitters

The increasing use of radio transmitters on birds is gratifying, because much more can be learned relative to leg banding alone. The use of radio transmitters and all other auxiliary markers requires a special authorization from BBL. When requesting authorization to use radio transmitters, please provide the information required for all auxiliary markers (p. 2-10 in the Bird Banding Manual), plus information on species, means of attachment, MHZ band, weight of the transmitter and attachment, and average weight of the species. The weight of the transmitter and attachment should not exceed 3% of the bird's body weight. Exceptions to this rule may be requested, but are not routinely allowed.

9. Database Updates

The BBL occasionally updates records in the banding and recovery databases to reflect coding changes. Recent updates include changing status 616 (experimental/fluoroscoped) birds to status 300 (normal wild) birds, changing obsolete status code 685 (research--miscellaneous) to various, more informative codes, and changing locations of birds banded in Mexico from state codes to ten-minute blocks where feasible. We thank banders who historically made good use of the "remarks" field on banding schedules, as those remarks made these updates much easier to accomplish.

We also thank all banders who responded to requests for wing chord and weight data to be incorporated into the wing and weight edits of BAND MANAGER. The BBL will continue to accept data sets for inclusion in future revisions. Minimum and maximum values are desired for wing chord and weight by sex (M/F/U). Please send these data to Mary Gustafson at BBL.

10. Size 1C Bands Discontinued

The size 1C band (inside diameter 0.091") is being discontinued, because it is only 0.003" smaller than the size 1 band at 0.094" inside diameter. For reference, the diameter of a human hair is approximately 0.003". Furthermore, when normal manufacturing tolerances are applied, a size 1C band made to the high end of the tolerance essentially becomes a size 1 band. Consequently, we will no longer order size 1C bands. We will, however, continue issuing 1C bands until the existing stock is exhausted. They will be ear marked specifically for Tree Swallows. Any bander having size 1C in stock and wishing to return them to the BBL in exchange for size 1 bands should contact (301-497-5805) to assure we have a supply of size 1 bands prior to returning bands.