USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Bird Banding Laboratory
12100 Beech Forest Road
Laurel, MD 20708-4037

April 2006


To:      All Banders

From:   Chief, Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL)

In this issue:
   1.  MTAB on BBL website
   2.  Bander Contact Information
   3.  Permits
   4.  People in the News
   5.  Oracle Database System
   6.  The BBL Federal Advisory Committee Update
   7.  Data Management
   8.  Avian Influenza Update
   9.  Web Encounter Reporting
 10.  Band Manager, CGS, and Band-Ops
 11.  New Data Manager for Banders
 12.  Meeting Reports
 13.  Visiting the Bird Banding Laboratory
 14.  BBL and the North American Ornithological Council
 15.  Incidental Capture of Hummingbirds
 16.  Join Your Local Banding Association

1.  Please Note:  MTAB on BBL website

This issue of the MTAB has been posted to the BBL website (see ( To comment on the MTAB please contact us at or call us at (301) 497-5807. Previous MTABs can also be found on our website.

2.  Bander Contact Information

Banders and subpermittees should keep their contact information current. We need changes to any of your contact information, such as e-mail addresses, regular mail addresses and/or telephone numbers, so that we may communicate more efficiently and effectively. Corrections and/or additions should be submitted using our web site or via e-mail to If you do not have access to an electronic method, please notify us by regular mail at the address at the top of this document and mark it ATTN: Florence Soehnlein or call Flo at 301-497-5799. We thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter as we streamline our procedures and communications.

As we continue to increase electronic communication and reduce paper, the Report-to-Bander, Periodic Report, and most letters will be sent to via e-mail. We also encourage responses via e-mail.

3. Permits

Please note that all regulations regarding bird banding permits are described in the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 13 and 21). These regulations were mailed with your original permit application and can be reviewed at  The following information is based on these existing regulations.
Term of permit (§50 CFR 21.22)
All new or renewed banding and marking permits expire on the date designated on the face of the permit unless the permit has been suspended or revoked. The term of the permit shall not exceed three (3) years from the date of issuance or renewal. Previously the BBL has renewed permits every two years, but we are switching to every three years.
It is the responsibility of the master bander to request renewal, but we will notify banders by e-mail (or regular mail if you do not have e-mail) 90 days before expiration of the permit. If you do not request renewal, we will assume you are letting your permit expire and will inactivate it.
Renewal of Permits (Downloadable Permit Renewal Application Form (PDF) New icon)
(§13.12(a) (5)): Applicants requesting renewal of a permit must submit a written application at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of the permit. The regulations require that you submit a new application. Soon we will have a downloadable version of the permit application on the web site. During the interim you may request a copy of the application from Flo Soehnlein ( We will make renewal as painless as possible by offering several options for submittal:

Please note that only master permittees need to re-apply. All we require is:

We will assume that all subpermittees are to be renewed as well, unless you ask us to remove them. Renewal time is a logical time to review your expiring permit and inform us of any changes in your project(s). This would include deletions as well as additions. If you have changes, you will probably need to attach additional pages describing the changes, as you would with an original application.
Continuation of permitted activity (§13.22(c)): Once you apply for a renewal, you can continue your activity until your application has been processed. 
Renewal criteria: BBL will issue a renewed permit if the applicant meets the criteria for issuance in (§13.21(b) and is not disqualified (§13.21(c)).
NABC Banding Training and Certification
NABC continues to provide excellent bird bander training. However, the BBL cannot accept the NABC bander or trainer certification as a replacement for the requirements stated in the regulations (50 CFR). This note replaces that which was in the MTAB # 86.
Logically, one of the three references would be your NABC trainer. We consider NABC certification as excellent support of your qualification as a bander, and thus, an important piece of information for your application.
We encourage all banders to obtain copies of the NABC manuals, either printed or electronic, that are pertinent to their projects (contact

Auxiliary Marking Requests

One can also consult the Frequently Asked Questions – Changes to the Banding Permit and Subpermits at
You may also consult the USFWS web

Requests for auxiliary marking should be sent to the Banding Biologist (contact ). We also ask that you review the Frequently Asked Permit Questions (FAQ) at

4. People in the News

We are very pleased to welcome Danny Bystrak back into the BBL flock. He has accepted the Banding Biologist position left vacant when Mary Gustafson left. Danny retired from the BBL in 1994 after many years with the BBL and the Breeding Bird Survey. He will be editing banding data, reviewing permit requests, and approving requests for use of auxiliary markers. We are fortunate to have the skills and experience that Danny brings to the job.

Rita Malorodova joined us as a full-time employee in March 2006. She was formerly a contract Oracle programmer. Her expertise and efforts have been instrumental in getting us to the new relational database system.

Susi Ponce joined us in March 2006 as a contract bilingual biological technician. Her duties will include assistance with encounter reports from Latin America, especially with the 1-800 Mexico project; Spanish and Portuguese translations and telephone calls and data quality of these reports; data requests from federal, State, and Latin American countries; processing neck collar sightings; and helping provide support for Band Manager. Susi has experience with waterfowl banding and waterfowl surveys as well as long-legged wader surveys. She will be with us until mid-May.

Chandler Robbins retired after 60 years of service to USFWS and USGS. He is still volunteering as Scientist Emeritus and is still banding birds as time and other obligations permit. Chan is also still very active in the Breeding Bird Survey and the MD/DC Breeding Bird Atlas.

Please see the BBL staff contact information ( for telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

 5.  Oracle Database System

After completion of parallel testing to assure that all records were transferred and the system edits were functioning properly, the BBL has changed from a hierarchical HP Database System to a relational Oracle Database System as of March 16, 2006! Key users in USGS, USFWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service have access through VPN (virtual private network) hook-up.

This project took 19 months to complete and was truly a team effort by all staff in the BBL and our support programmers in the Patuxent IRM Section. The USGS GIO (Geographic Information Office) was particularly instrumental in the Oracle programming and development of our new band management software (see Item 11 below). Due to this immense effort, we do have a backlog in routine operations which we hope to have caught up by July.

Version 1 of the Oracle system has many new and improved edits for both banding and encounter data and sets the stage for future capabilities for both BBL and outside users. As we use the system we will identify and work on improvements and new features for improved efficiency and data quality.

Some of the major changes are outlined below:

Permits will be printed on 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper. Please note that permits, as they are renewed, will be good for 3 years instead of 2. Auxiliary marking authorizations and subpermits will be printed as part of the master permit. It is still the responsibility of the master permittee to distribute copies of the permits to his/her subpermittees.

These reports are generated weekly although we may combine weeks for mailing. The report will be printed on 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper. Every other record is highlighted with gray to make it easier to read. Please note that the reported band number is listed on the first line. The original band number (which may be the same as the reported number) and any other band numbers associated with that bird are listed on the next line(s) if the bird has had more than one band during its life. This report will be sent electronically in the near future so it is imperative that banders update their contact information as soon as possible when there is a change (see Item 2 above). It is our intention to start sending this report via e-mail (as both a .pdf file that can be printed and a text file that can be imported into a database or spreadsheet) in the near future. If you have any questions about your reports, please contact Carolyn Parker ( or 301-497-5945). As a result of our changeover from the HP system to the Oracle database, you may receive duplicates reports between your last Report-to-Bander from the HP (run March 10) and the first from the Oracle system.

The report will be printed on 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper. It will no longer include duplicate records. Any bird banded and encountered in the same region will appear only on the region of banding list. This report will be changed to an electronic format (a .pdf file that can be printed and a text file for import into a database or spreadsheet) in the near future. It is very important that we have current correct e-mail addresses (see Item 2 above). Others should contact

The banding location description will be taken from the Banders Location File which is updated each time a new location is submitted. Over time, this file will become better populated until it replaces our banding gazetteer. These descriptions will allow band finders to more easily locate the banding site on a map and will be more meaningful than 10-minute block names assigned many years ago. Thus it is very important for banders to use alpha descriptions that are meaningful and that can be found on a map (see Item 7 below).

The next phase of the Oracle Project will entail moving from mostly paper to mostly electronic correspondence to banders.  BBL is working on converting the Report-to-Bander and Periodic (Quarterly) Report to electronic format (both a .pdf file that can be printed and a text file that can be imported into a database or a spreadsheet will be sent) to be sent via e-mail only (unless e-mail is not an option for you).  Hence, it is now even more important that banders and persons receiving the Periodic Report provide us with current e-mail addresses and other contact information corrections in a timely manner.

Please contact if you have any additions or changes to the contact information for the Periodic (Quarterly) Report. We also would like input regarding the timing of the Periodic Reports so please contact or  if you would like to see the timing changed (current schedule is January through March, April through June, July and August, and September through December). If you are unable to receive your Report-to-Bander and/or Periodic reports and correspondence via e-mail, please contact (Report-to-Bander) or (Periodic Report).

If you do not have an e-mail address and are unable to receive the Report-to-Bander and/or Periodic reports and correspondence electronically, please contact Kathy Klimkiewicz or Karen Jones at our mailing address: USGS Patuxent WRC Bird Banding Laboratory, 12100 Beech Forest Road Suite 4037, Laurel MD 20708-4037.
The next step in this transition will be on the use of electronic correspondence with the band finders.
6.   BBL Federal Advisory Committee (BBL FAC) Update

The BBL FAC met in November 2005 and February 2006; they will meet again in June 2006. If you want further information on this Committee and their meetings, please see their web site ( The web site has a list of members, minutes of the previous meetings, and other pertinent information.

7.  Data Management

Band Orders

Please order bands via the web site ( as this will save time for everyone. If you do not have electronic access, please contact Craig Tuthill (301-497-5805) if the form you have does not have the size and type you wish to order.

Banders Reporting Coordinates via GPS

If banders are reporting their location coordinates from a GPS unit, please be sure that the unit is set correctly to degrees, minutes and seconds prior to use and that you have noted which data type was set (NAD). Also, please state in the “Remarks” that a GPS unit was used to obtain coordinates and to what map datum the unit was set on when collecting the coordinates. Remember that we still need a description of the location, even if coordinates are taken from a GPS. If you are unsure about what any of this means, please become more familiar with your GPS unit or determine your coordinates by another method. The BBL website has links to several on-line sources for determining this information (

Location Descriptions on Schedules

It is very important that all banders use location descriptions that are meaningful to anyone who later finds one of their bands because these descriptions will be used on the Certificates of Appreciation (e.g., 6 mi W Laurel, MD). We have begun phasing-out the old Banding Location Gazetteer as we build our Bander location file with coordinates and alpha descriptions submitted with electronic schedules. Also, you will be able to submit more precise coordinates with the new data management software (See Item 11).

Schedule for Reporting Bandings

Please review the reporting schedule for both game and nongame birds (see the BBL web site If you have any questions about the schedule please contact or Prompt submission of data is even more important now that the web reporting of encounters provides instant feedback to the finder.

If your banding data have not been submitted then band finders may be discouraged and may not submit other bands that they find. It is never too early to submit your banding data! This is especially important for game bird data which should be submitted to BBL prior to the beginning of the hunting season. Failure to submit banding data in a timely manner will only increase our correspondence to you and foster discontent among the public.

If you get a ‘Request for Banding Data’ letter (formerly Up-for-Banding) because we have an encounter, PLEASE submit the banding data for that number and any other numbers that have been used on that string immediately so we can promptly respond to the finders!

Permit Name and Number

This is a gentle reminder to include your permit number and permit name (as it appears on your permit) on all correspondence (electronic, e-mail, telephone, and paper). This is even more important as we continue to move from paper to electronic correspondence. The permit number is a key field for accessing contact information and banding/encounter data from our database. The BBL Staff thanks you in advance for helping us make our jobs easier and more efficient.

Band Replacement and Double-banding

The BBL has a supply of hard metal bands. We request that banders who work on long-lived birds who wear out aluminum bands (such as Canvasback, Redhead, Common Tern) or birds that damage their bands (such as Northern Cardinal) to use these. This will reduce the number of band replacements and greatly lesson our cost and time for processing these.

Double banding is prohibited without appropriate banding office approval of the proposal which must include a justification and explanation of the need for doing double banding. Again, this will help us reduce costs and staff time needed to process these records.

Reporting Encounters

Please be sure to report foreign encounters to the Bird Banding Laboratory ( before requesting information from e-mail listservers such as BirdBand or Sawwhetnet.

If you report recoveries (dead birds or bands removed) that are your own or for someone else, please keep the band and encourage anyone who contacts you about reporting a band to keep the band. Also, please keep a record of the report until the Certificate of Appreciation is received. This will make it easier for you or the person reporting the band to respond to correspondence from the BBL when there is a possible problem with the report.

Neck Collar Sightings

The volume of neck-collar goose and swan sightings has increased exponentially since the mid-1990s when the BBL starting obtaining the matching band number and processing the sightings into the database. This process now far exceeds the time the BBL staff have available to respond to such reports without impacting necessary functions and operations. Also, there are many instances when the collar color and/or code are incorrectly reported and cannot be matched to a band number. Many researchers do not provide the BBL with timely data about collar colors and codes that have been placed on birds; therefore, we do not have the ability to locate the band number for many of these reports.

In order to give the collar reporters the opportunity to receive information about the bird and to give the researchers the opportunity to determine the need for the data, sightings will be forwarded to the researchers for response. By mid-summer the BBL will implement the following procedure:

Banders will receive notification via e-mail when we start using this procedure and we will supply the Flyway contact information. The web site will also announce the new procedure so that persons reporting via the web will know not to expect a reply from us. If this procedure is disappointing to you, we apologize for this necessary action, but we do not have the resources to respond to every report of a neck-collared goose or swan without impacting necessary functions of the BBL.

Pyle Part 2

In 1996, in cooperation with the BBL, Peter Pyle compiled approximately 390 age-and-sex bar graphs for species regularly breeding in North America. These bar graphs were subsequently published in The Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part 1 (Pyle 1997).   

We are pleased to announce that we have recently supported Pyle in creating Part 2 which covers 310 species, including:  loons, grebes, tubenoses, gannets, pelicans, cormorants, herons, egrets, ibis, vultures, waterfowl, diurnal raptors, some upland game birds, rails, shorebirds, jaegers, gulls, terns, and alcids. The format and style of the graphs will be identical to those presented in Part 1, except for small modifications based on bander  recommendations, such as separating the bars for age codes "AHY" and "U”.
The primary purpose of these graphs is to illustrate the timing for use of the various age and sex codes. These graphs also provide guidance for banders for use of the proper age and sex codes on schedules. We are confident that the use of bar graphs by banders has reduced the number of unacceptable age and sex codes submitted on schedules to the BBL, thus saving the BBL and banders substantial time and effort to correct such codes. In addition, the bar graphs provide banders with confidence levels and codes for ageing and sexing each species throughout the year. We have received substantial positive feedback from banders who have learned how the graphs function and they refer to them frequently during banding operations. We thank Peter for tackling this important effort. He has provided an outstanding reference for the banders.

8.  Avian Influenza Update

As you must be aware, there is growing concern about the probability and risk of the avian flu. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center Bulletin “05-03 Guidelines for Handling Birds” provides interim guidelines for handling wild birds with regard to the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1.  The National Wildlife Health Center carries the USGS’ official word on wildlife disease matters and provides periodic bulletins on such matters on their web site.  The BBL encourages banders to periodically check this USGS National Wildlife Health Center web site: The USGS and the USFWS have posted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Avian Influenza in response to growing concern about avian influenza (see Alaska FWS also has information and links on their website (

Although this form of avian influenza has not been reported from the U.S. or Canada, it is likely only be a matter of time before it is discovered in North America. It is important that banders be aware of any announcements regarding this potential health issue and follow the proper ways to protect themselves and their staff and volunteers. 

If you are participating in an Avian Influenza monitoring program, you do not need an addendum to your banding to collect cloacal swabs. If you are not a bander you will need a Scientific Collection Permit to capture and handle birds for the purpose of collecting cloacal swabs. If you are pulling feathers or drawing blood, your banding permit must be amended to reflect authorization for these actions. Many of the State wildlife agencies are interested in knowing who is taking cloacal swab samples and they may be contacting you directly.

9.  Web Encounter Reporting

As a result of feedback received about the previous web encounter reporting page and the cost of the toll-free reporting line, we are making changes to the web page and encouraging use of this option for reporting encounters ( Why use the web page rather than the 1-800 report line to report encounters?

We will continue to make incremental improvements to the site, particularly between now and summer 2006. Send your suggestions to

10.  Band Manager, CGS and Band-Ops

Again we thank all banders who are using Band Manager to submit banding schedules. At this time the BBL still requires hard copy banding schedules and a disc with the .txt file for a successful electronic data submission. In the near future we plan to make the transition to paperless processing of banding data. Notice of the change will be posted on our web site and will be sent via e-mail to all banders that have a valid e-mail address on file with the BBL.  There is no direct link between Band Manager and the web, so selecting “electronic schedules” on the Band Manager Menu does not result in data being sent to the BBL. For assistance or to submit comments regarding version 3.1 contact the Help Desk (Esther Mills) at or 301-497-5845. Please see to download the software and for updates to Band Manager.

Bird Studies Canada will continue to provide technical and user support through December 31, 2006, after which time Band Manager will be supported only by BBL staff through the Help Desk.  

Banding data files generated by the Band Ops Program will be converted and processed through the new Oracle system; however Oracle is unable to convert the summarized data files which are created through the Computer Generated Schedule (CGS) Program. We encourage all banders currently using the Band-Ops and CGS Programs to begin using the new program (currently called TIMBO) when it is released to manage and submit their data (See next item). After December 31, 2006, the BBL will no longer accept data through Band Ops or CGS

11.  The Information Manager for Banding Operations

We are pleased to announce that we have made significant progress with a new program (working name is TIMBO) for managing and submitting banding data. This is largely the result of your many requests for a more user-friendly program, but was also necessary for transition to our new Oracle database system. Oracle allows us to store data fields that were not included in Band Manager.  A long-anticipated part of that transition is to eventually have paperless data submission. Another driving force was the need to have Mac compatible program. The new program is written in Filemaker 8, which is compatible with both platforms.

The new program shows great promise to answer the needs and dreams of banders. We hope banders will eagerly convert to this program. Ultimately, not having to submit paper schedules should be impetus enough! Do we prefer that you switch as quickly as possible? YES. Will we require that you switch?  Not now, but we may decide to do so later. Will you be able to import your files from Band Manager?  YES, we consider this one of the most important features to encourage banders to switch to the new program.

We will continue accepting data via other methods through December 31, 2006.  In the fall of 2006 we will assess the progress of voluntary use. Any bander still using CGS or Band-Ops should be especially keen on switching to the new program. There are so few currently using these programs, that we will phase out CGS and Band-Ops as of January 1, 2007. 

We are currently beta testing and soon we will have a downloadable version available on our web site ( We encourage all banders to try it.  On this site there will be a web link to a mechanism for sending in your feedback.

If you would like to suggest a name for the new software (working name is TIMBO), please send your suggestion to  with “Idea for Name” in the subject line or call the Esther Mills at 301-497-5845.
12. Meeting Reports 

Terry Liddick, the BBL State and Federal Liaison Wildlife Biologist, attended and provided an update on the status of the BBL at the Pacific, Central, Mississippi and Atlantic Winter Flyway Technical Section meetings and the Eastern Bird Banding Association annual meeting.

Terry Liddick and Monica Tomosy, Chief, BBL, participated in the North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Management Conference in Columbus, Ohio. They presented an update on the status of the BBL to the Bird Conservation Committee, the National Flyway Council, and the Migratory Shore and Upland Game Bird Committee.

Wendy Manear, the BBL Band Encounter Processing Manager, and Monica Tomosy, Chief, BBL, participated in the North American Banding Council meeting at Madera Canyon, Arizona.  In addition to an update on the status of the BBL, the new technological improvements, and a look into the BBL band encounter processing section, they participated in the efforts the NABC is making to promote best banding practices as well as new data management and use ideas. It was a very productive and exciting meeting.

13.  Visiting the Bird Banding Laboratory

Banders are always welcome to visit BBL during normal business hours. The BBL is part of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, located in Gabrielson Laboratory on the Patuxent Research Refuge (a National Wildlife Refuge). This is a reminder that Patuxent has security procedures that require all visitors to arrange their visit in advance. It is still possible to visit BBL with advance notice (preferably several days prior to the proposed visit). The BBL is located within the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center located off I-295 at Rt. 197 and Rt. 212 (Powder Mill Road.) between Baltimore, MD and Washington DC.  Please call 301 497-5807 or email if you wish to visit.

14.  BBL and the North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC)

The BBL, the Canadian Bird Banding Office, and the Dirección General de Vida Silvestre-SEMARNAT (Mexican agency for wildlife management), are co-sponsoring a symposium and an associated workshop at the NAOC in Veracruz, Mexico October 3-7, 2006 in collaboration with other parties.  In recent years there has been an increase in the number of long term collaborative, international initiatives that use bird banding to answer important biological questions about bird movement and to identify essential bird habitat. This research is instrumental in understanding the complex challenges we face as we attempt to conserve migratory bird populations across landscapes and political boundaries.

The symposium will focus on results of banding and monitoring projects and is co-sponsored with the Landbird Migration Monitoring Network for the Americas (LaMMNA) and Cornell University.  The purpose is to highlight long term collaborative projects across the Americas; showcase efforts that demonstrate scientific, management, or conservation contributions; identify opportunities for collaboration; present new models for data analysis; and demonstrate the need for a coordinated, international approach to bird banding in the Americas.

The workshop on the idea of a western hemisphere banding information network is co-sponsored with the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) who will concurrently be offering field banding training.  Representatives of organizations and agencies that are interested in exploring collaborative opportunities among bird banding programs across the Americas are participating in a 2 day workshop focused on public awareness, information sharing, training, and capacity building.  Goals are to identify needs, challenges, and opportunities regarding schemes, training, and data sharing, and to consider various models of coordination across the Americas.  The dates will likely be October 8 -10.

Plans are evolving between now and October.  For more information on the NAOC, go to For more information on the BBL, BBO, and SEMARNAT symposium with LaMMNA and Cornell, or workshop with IBP, contact :

Lesley Howes                                                               Monica Tomosy
E-mail:             E-mail:
Tel: 613-998-0515                                                       Tel: 301-497-5646

Ariel Rojo E-mail:  

15.  Incidental Capture of Hummingbirds

Anyone operating mist nets should be familiar with how to extract and release hummingbirds safely. We highly recommend that all banders using mist nets for passerines read the NABC Hummingbird Banding Manual which is available free upon request to the BBL ( Hummingbirds should never be held by the bill or the feet but should be held firmly but gently around the body. Always check for a band and promptly release hummingbirds. Additional authorization is needed to band hummingbirds. In order to obtain authorization banders must obtain training in hummingbird banding prior to requesting that hummingbird authorization be added to their banding permit.

The Hummingbird Monitoring Network (THMN) is a science-based, project-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of hummingbird diversity and abundance throughout the New World. Their monitoring program relies upon information obtained by repeated, standardized banding and counting efforts at multiple sites. In 2005, they monitored 28 sites in Western North America. The network is interested in expanding to other regions. Interested individuals should contact Dr. Susan Wethington ( or visit the HMN website after it is launched in late April or early May 2006 ( for more information. Anyone interested in hummingbird banding can also join the HUMBAND listserv by visiting

16. Join Your Local Banding Association

All banders are encouraged to join their local banding association (see Each organization sponsors an annual meeting provides an opportunity to learn about banding techniques, an excellent way to exchange ideas, and a way to meet other banders. Membership in the Eastern, Inland, and Western Association also includes a subscription to their joint journal, NABB(North American Bird Bander).

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