LAUREL, MD 20708-4037


July, 2001


To: All Banders

From:Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL)


  1. Computer survey results
  3. Recapture survey results
  4. Permit policies and procedures
  5. Band supply
  6. Sale of bands
  7. Toll free number
  8. North American Banding Council
  9. West Nile virus
  10. How obtained codes
  11. The Identification Guide to North American Birds
  12. New Species Codes, Band Sizes, etc.
  13. Miscellaneous items

1.  Computer Survey Results 

With MTAB 84, we enclosed a survey questionnaire designed to learn more about US banders’ computer capabilities and their experiences with BANDMANAGER, the banding software that we distributed to all banders in July, 1999. Of the 581 banders (29%) who responded to our survey as of December 31, 2000, 95% indicated that they had computer access, with 88% of those having access to IBM compatible PCs running windows 95 or higher, and 12% with access only to Macintosh computers. Most reported using BANDMANAGER software to manage their banding data and submit electronic schedules to BBL. Only five percent of respondents reported having no computer access. A survey of Canadian banders yielded similar results.

We thank all banders who responded to the survey. The data provided, along with numerous helpful suggestions for improvements, will help guide future development of BANDMANAGER.


We thank all banders who are using BANDMANAGER to submit banding schedules. More than 70% of all banding records are now coming in via BANDMANAGER. We need to raise that to 100%, because inevitably BBL will cease accepting paper schedules and electronic schedules from the CGS and BAND OPS programs. BBL’s data entry section, which for more than 30 years keypunched data from paper schedules, is being phased out. Future programming investments will go toward improvements to BANDMANAGER rather than maintenance of CGS and BAND OPS. In fact, the next version of BANDMANAGER is already in development.

A few banders have asked if this conversion to all electronic schedules from BANDMANAGER really applies to all banders. The answer is, yes. We have no plans to "grandfather" in or otherwise exempt any categories of banders from submitting banding records electronically. Please understand that this is not meant to put any bander out of business, but is necessary for pragmatic reasons. Given the advent of electronic commerce, the ubiquity of computers, and the economics of our situation, the banding program must keep pace with developments in the electronic world.

So, please use BANDMANAGER and keep it updated. The most recent (May 1, 2001) can be downloaded (848 MB, estimated download time on a 56K modem 16 min) from the BANDMANAGER web site at . Download it to a temporary file, go to "My Computer", browse to the files location, and double click on the file name to execute. Contact our BANDMANAGER Help Desk (301-497-5845 or if you would like the update on a disc. The latest update will make all the species table corrections and update the system. For information on new developments with BANDMANAGER, watch the web site. This site also has links to Frequently Asked Questions, BANDMANAGER Fact Sheets and the BANDMANAGER User’s Manual. Again, those without Internet access can request the Manual and supplemental materials in printed form from the Help Desk.

If you need help with BANDMANAGER do not hesitate to contact the Help Desk, You might also try to attend a BANDMANAGER workshop. Several have been held, usually in conjunction with meetings of regional banding associations. Another is planned for the AOU meeting in August, at Seattle, WA. If your access to computers, or familiarity with them, limits your ability to use BANDMANAGER, you might seek help from a friend, relative or fellow bander. To facilitate this, we are starting a list of persons willing to help banders with BANDMANAGER. If you willing to help other banders, please contact (301-497-5804) to get on the list.

The major down side to BANDMANAGER has been that our attempts to develop a Macintosh version were not successful. We were not able to get a good fix on, or solution for, the problem(s) with the Mac version. Consequently, we have abandoned efforts to have a Mac specific version, and have put our limited funds into developing the next, improved PC version. We hope that Mac users will be able to run BANDMANAGER on a PC emulator, or that they will find access to a PC. We will however, remain open to suggestions from Mac experts as to how we might still accommodate Mac users, short of contracting for a program.

3. Recapture survey results

Also with MTAB 84, we enclosed a survey questionnaire designed to learn more about banders’ recapture data and their willingness to contribute them to the database that we are developing. Of the 500 (25% of banders) who responded, 94% indicated that they recorded recapture data, with 19% being involved with collaborative projects such as MAPS or pre-hunting season waterfowl banding. Fifty-five (55)% indicated they were recapturing 20 or more adults of a single species per year. Many had data sets extending more than 15 years and containing thousands of individual recapture records. However, only 26% of these data sets were actively being analyzed with contemporary mark-recapture models. Eighty (80)% indicated they would be willing to contribute data and would welcome collaborative analyses, however 12% had proprietary concerns. We thank all who responded to our recapture questionnaire. The results will help guide further development of the recapture database. For progress to date, please see

4. Permit policies and procedures

Sixty (60) letters and e-mail messages were received in response to new permit policies and procedures presented in our May 19, 2000 letter to all banders. While this number is small relative to the size of the US banding community (5,200 Master and Subpermittees), the comments submitted were substantive, strong and often lengthy and detailed. Four major organizations representing broad constituencies commented (National Flyway Council, North American Banding Council, Ornithological Council and Raptor Research Foundation). As a result of comments submitted, we are considering a number of specific changes in the permit policies and procedures presented in the May 19, 2000 letter. For some of the more substantive changes, we will be required to take the more formal approach of proposing these in the Federal Register for public comment as part of the Federal rule-making process. We will let banders know the outcome as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we thank those of you who took time to comment, and we thank all of you for your patience.

5. Band supply 

With three companies producing, and $131,000 allocated for band procurement, band supply is improving. Initial orders of small size, butt-end bands have been received and distributed to banders. Backlogs still exist in a couple of smaller sizes, though, so more small size bands have been ordered. Large size, butt-end bands have been received in quantities sufficient to cover pre-hunting season waterfowl banding. Lock-on bands are coming in and being distributed as soon as they are received. Banders may now order bands electronically through the BBL web site at ;

6. Sale of bands 

Some collecting, trading and sale of bird bands has occurred for years, most commonly among hunters who lawfully acquired the bands as a by product of hunting waterfowl. The advent of Internet auction sites has made more people aware of bands, and sales of bands have increased greatly. Bands now can have considerable monetary value relative to the cost of their manufacture. With money involved, the once innocuous pastime of band collecting has become a side business for a few people, and some bands are entering into trade unlawfully, e.g., with birds being killed illegally to obtain bands. In some documented cases, bands never used on birds have entered trade. In at least one case, bands still carried on an active bander’s inventory were sold. Please be sure that your band inventory is well managed, accounted for, and secure. Do not give bands away as souvenirs, rewards or display items. If you have distributed bands among subpermittees, or employees in the case of federal and state banders, periodic accounting is advised. If you are not sure of what should be in your inventory, we can provide you a copy of your band issue record. Contact or 301-497-5794. 

7. Toll free number 

Public response to the toll-free number (1-800-327-BAND) for reporting bird bands continues to be excellent. Band reporting rates apparently have increased, and record numbers (85,000 last year) of bands are being reported. The success of the 1-800 number has not been without costs, though. While banders, particularly waterfowl banders, are benefiting from having more and better data, and a better return from expensive field operations, BBL’s operating costs have increased substantially. This makes it all the more important to increase efficiencies and reduce costs in other areas. Waterfowl and colonial waterbird banders can help us, and in turn themselves, by sending banding schedules as soon as pre-hunting season banding operations are over. Nothing disappoints band reporters and clogs up the system at BBL so much as when band recoveries are reported before bandings. One may also report bands interactively via the BBL web site ( More than 4,000 web reports have been received during this past year. We encourage banders to publicize both the 1-800 number and the web site. 

8. North American Banding Council 

The North American Banding Council’s (NABC) efforts to establish a Bander Training and Certification Program have come to fruition during the past year. Several certification sessions have been held, producing a first generation of certified banders and trainers. More sessions are planned. Check the NABC web site for dates and locations BBL has begun accepting NABC certification as stand-alone evidence of qualifications for federal bird banding permits. That is, NABC certified applicants for bird banding permits need not furnish additional evidence or references to demonstrate that they are qualified to band. BBL will not require NABC certification of new or existing banders, but does recommend it, and will expect that in the absence of certification, a comparable level of training and experience will be demonstrated. Additionally, NABC recently published five manuals: The North American Bander’s Study Guide; The Instructor’s Guide to Training Passerine Bird Banders in North America; The North American Bander’s Manual for Passerines and Near Passerines (Excluding Owls and Hummingbirds); The North American Bander’s Manual for Raptor Banding Techniques; and The North American Bander’s Manual for Banding Hummingbirds. These outstanding works have been compiled by some of the best banders from Canada and the US. Web accessible electronic versions of the manuals will be available from NABC at   BBL presently has hard copies available, and soon will have CD copies. Contact if you would like copies.

9. West Nile Virus 

A few banders are cooperating with health officials and others studying West Nile virus (WNV). Other banders have inquired about the disease and its risks. Dr. Nicholas Komar, Bander No. 22866 and scientist with the Center for Disease Control (, and Dr. Robert Mclean, Bander No.09475 and Director of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (, offer the following information and advice. 

Most birds infected with West Nile virus, across the ocean or here in North America, do not die from West Nile virus, but rather mount an immunity subsequent to the acute phase of the infection. Some North American species like crows are an exception because they are quite susceptible to the strain of WNV present in the United States and have an extremely high fatality rate. During the acute phase, the virus circulates in the bloodstream at very high levels (in some species) such that feeding mosquitoes imbibe virus and become infected. Thus, banders should consider protecting themselves from contamination with potentially infected avian blood. Although the virus is principally mosquito-borne, direct contact with WNV infected blood (for example, through an open wound or cut) presents a risk for transmission. Laboratory workers have been infected with West Nile virus. 

It is common for more than half of the resident bird population to become infected over the course of a transmission season (late spring-summer-early fall) within a West Nile virus transmission focus. So, depending on the location, encountering infected birds may occur. 

Another concern is contact with feces. In experimental studies, many birds tested so far do shed live virus particles in their feces during the latter part of the acute phase of the infection. The amount of virus shed and the survival time of live virus in the excreted feces are unknown at this time. Nevertheless, caution in handling birds, such as wearing surgical gloves, should be considered. When removing passerine birds from mist nets, banders should consider avoiding inhaling fecal aerosols (birds commonly excrete feces when first handled and are often first handled at face level in mist nets!) Hepa-filtered surgical masks are available at fairly low cost ($0.50 per mask). Shedding of WNV in bird feces is yet another reason to consider using bird holding bags only once prior to washing, to avoid potential bird-bird transmission via infected feces. Although these precautions are useful everywhere for good hygiene, they are especially important in regions where West Nile virus occurs. A map of the regions where WNV has occurred this year is updated weekly at the following website: WNV surveillance data and the reported geographical locations of the virus in 2000 can be found at website: or [link removed 8/04]. These following Internet links provide additional information on West Nile virus: and 

10. “How Obtained” codes 

As part of the re-engineering of our computer systems, we are evaluating band recovery record fields and their coding. We propose to consolidate and simplify How Obtained codes (see page 5- 63 of the Bird Banding Manual). A number of infrequently used or poorly understood codes would be eliminated. The trade-off is that for a relatively insignificant number of band recoveries, some level of detail would be lost. For example, How Obtained code 06, caught by or due to rodent would be consolidated into a more generic code for predation. The proposed consolidations are presented in the table below. We welcome banders’ comments and suggestions regarding the proposal. Please send them to no later than August 31, 2001.


00 = Found Dead
17 = Drowned
21 = Bird found dead in building or enclosure. 
30 = Died in nest

00 = Found Dead
01 = Shot 
91 = Illegally taken reported by conservation agency
        employees or other law enforcement officials as 
        illegally taken.
01 = Shot
02 = Caught or found dead due to: starvation. 
15 = Caught or found dead due to: weather conditions 
18 = Caught or found dead due to disease: botulism 
        (part of confirmed die-off). 
20 = Caught due to disease 
23 = Caught or found dead due to:  oil or tar 
25 = Caught or killed due to: Poisoning (does not include lead
        Poisoning, avicides or pesticides).
32 = Caught due to: parasite infestation
36 = Caught due to: exhaustion
40 = Caught or found dead due to:  lead poisoning
43 = Caught or found dead due to disease: trichomoniasis
55 = Caught due to pesticides. Birds reported killed or
        captured as a result of spray programs. Does not include
02 = Caught or found dead due to: 
03 = Caught or found due to injury (no change from current system)
04 = Caught by or due to: traps or snares other than devices
         used to catch birds for banding.
21 = Caught in building or enclosure
28 = Caught by hand
04 = Caught by or due to: means other than banding operations
06 = Caught by or due to: rodent 
07 = Caught by or due to: miscellaneous birds 
08 = Caught by or due to: shrike 
09 = Caught by or due to: hawks, owls, or other raptors 
11 = Caught by or due to: dog 
12 = Caught by or due to: cat 
19 = Caught by or due to: reptile 
31 = Caught by or due to: miscellaneous animal 
34 = Caught or found dead due to: fish (includes bands
         reported found inside fish). 
49 = Caught at, on or in nest by predator.
05 = Predation
10 = Banding Mortality: birds accidentally killed during 
        banding operations. Includes birds killed in, by or 
        due to traps, holding devices or handling. Does not 
        include birds killed by weather or predators.
16 = Collected as Scientific Specimen
44 = Caught or found dead due to: control operations
        (roost bombing, gassing, avicides, wetting agents,
51 = Banding mortality: bird killed by predators, weather,
        etc. while in trapping or holding devices.
06 = Caught during or dead due to scientific or control operations
33 = Caught or observed at or in nest 
58 = Bird located by electronic sensors (Note: location 
        reported is for receiver, and not necessarily the bird). 
89 = Previously banded bird trapped and released during
        banding operations  in different 10-minute block than 
        where originally banded. 
99 = Previously banded bird trapped and released during
        banding operations in same 10-minute block where
        originally banded.
07 = Trapped or captured in Banding operations
29 = Sight record: identified by color band, marked
        plumage or marker other than standard, numbered
        metal band.
08 = Identified by auxiliary markers
52 = Sight record: band read by telescope or other means
        while bird was free.
09 = Federal band read by scope, binoculars, video camera
56 = Obtained – letter simply states in effect "I obtained this
        bird." No further information available.
97 = Miscellaneous. Method of recovery not covered by
        other codes.
98 = Band or band number only obtained. No further
        information available.
10 = Band or band number only
14 = Caught due to striking or being struck by: motor
27 = Caught by or found dead due to striking or being
        struck by: moving train.
39 = Caught or found dead due to striking or being struck
        by: moving aircraft
42 = Caught due to striking or being struck by: moving
        farm machinery.
45 = Found dead or injured on highway.  No information
        as to whether hit by motor vehicle or not.
11 = Due to vehicle strike (car, train, aircraft, etc.)
26 = Caught by or due to: entanglement in fishing gear
        (line, hooks, nets, etc.).
12 = No change in definition
13 = Caught due to striking: stationary object other than
        wires or towers.
54 = Caught due to striking: radio, TV, high tension, etc.
        wires or towers, or ceilometers
13 = Striking stationary object (window, wire, tower, etc.)
24 = Caught or killed due to: fall from nest
36 = Caught due to: exhaustion
53 = Captured for Scientific Purposes (not collected).
        Bird captured, status changed (dyed, neck-banded,
        bled, etc.) for scientific purposes, bird released.
14 = No change in definition
50 = Found dead: band with skeleton or bone only.15 = No change in definition

11. The Identification Guide to North American Birds

Peter Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds, Volume 1 ("Pyle") is the definitive reference for all species covered. We recommend strongly that banders use it as their primary reference, with two exceptions. At this time, please do not use modifications of Stein’s Formula (chart, Pyle p. 225 or from any other source) to identify Willow and Alder Flycatchers. Willow and Alder Flycatchers should only be identified by vocalization or range at this time. Also, please do not use wing chord data from the Pyle as the sole criterion to sex or age birds, because in most cases, the data need to be tested against individuals of known sex and age. Wood’s Manual or NABBM Volume 2 remain valid references for determining sex based on wing chord for the species where data are provided, however, Pyle is preferred for all other determinants of species, sex and age.

Pyle (pages 32 and 33) is also a good reference for age codes. For example, regarding age code U (unknown) that confuses some banders, Pyle states "This code is only used during the last months of the year, when a bird can be either HY or AHY". Thus, one should not use it for birds banded between January 1 and the breeding season when all birds can at least be categorized as AHY.

Work on Volume 2 of the Identification Guide to North American Birds has started. Banders with information on the aging of nonpasserines not covered in Volume 1 are encouraged to contact Peter Pyle at Likewise banders willing to test wing chord criteria, or having information to add to the Errata for Volume 1 ( [new link 8/04] are encouraged to contact him.

12. New Species Codes, Band Sizes, etc.

Please note the following changes and additions to the Bird Banding Manual. Your BANDMANAGER files are automatically updated when you download the latest version.






Common Loon




Some may require size 9

Little Tern




Double-crested Cormorant




7B for some coastal birds

Long-tailed Duck




Formerly Oldsquaw

American Bittern




7A for males

Eastern Wood Pewee




Willow Flycatcher




Alder Flycatcher




SW Willow Flycatcher




Traill's Flycatcher




Steller's Jay




Hoary Redpoll




Common Redpoll




Chipping Sparrow




Field Sparrow




Hybrid Towhee




Except Eastern x spotted towhee

House Wren




Boreal Chickadee




Red-vented Bulbul








Hawaii Amakihi












13. Miscellaneous items:

Your contact information: Please notify the Bird Banding Laboratory of any changes to your title, name, or address including Area Codes and Email addresses for our records. Email these changes to or use our web site

Hummingbird band prefixes: The Bird Banding Manual incorrectly translates hummingbird band prefixes. The correct ones are: X = 7000, T = 8000, Y = 3000, and the newest, R = 4000. If in doubt, make a copy of your issue statements or contact

Bands for small owls: Some banders use lock-on bands on the smaller owls, while others use aluminum butt-end bands. If you have recommendations on the suitability of either, and in particular if you have information on removal of butt-end bands by owls, please contact We are particularly interested in information on Saw-whet Owl, Screech Owl, Burrowing Owl, and Barn Owl.

BBL web page, continues to evolve. Please send suggestions for improvements, and suggestions for links to

Auxiliary marking dyes: Rhodamine B is a possible carcinogen, and its use on wildlife is not recommended, according to the manufacturer. See and go to product lookup. Also, remember that Picric Acid becomes an explosive hazard if stored improperly and allowed to crystallize. Please send suggestions for alternative dyes to

Nunavut: The Northwest Territories of Canada formerly was divided into Franklin (626), Keewatin (695), and Mackenzie (645) Districts. With the creation of the new Territory of Nunavut, these districts have been dropped, and we are now using Northwest Territories (643) and Nunavut (640). BANDMANAGER has been updated to accommodate the new region, and and historical records have been modified.

Eurasian Collared-Doves, ECDO 315.9, have thick, short legs. The recommended band size 3A is probably too small for most birds, however a 4 or 4A is too tall and may injure the birds. If you plan to band this species, please contact for advice. In the meantime, BBL is looking into developing a better band size for Eurasian Collared-Doves. If you work with this species and have advice to offer, please contact

The Canadian Atlas of Bird Banding, Vol. 1: Doves, Cuckoos, and Hummingbirds through Passerines, 1921-1995 by D. Brewer, A.W. Diamond, E.J. Woodsworth, B.T. Collins, and E.H. Dunn was recently published by the Canadian Wildlife Service. This fine compendium of band recovery distributions is now available on the web in a .pdf version at http://www.cws- .