Duck band system moves online
LAUREL, Md. — Hunters fortunate enough to harvest a banded duck, goose or dove next hunting season will see a change in the way they report those bands to the United States Geological Survey.
An online tool at www. reportband.gov has replaced the call-in center.
The toll-free number engraved on the bands will still function, but will redirect callers to the website, according to the survey’s Patuxent Bird Banding Laboratory, which administers the program in the United States.
The change is not only a matter of making the system more efficient, but also more accurate. Some data collected through call-in centers was inaccurate because of the inherent human error introduced through an extra step in the recording process, according to discussions between the laboratory and the Flyway Technical Committees, which include biologists from each state in each of the four flyways migrating birds use.
The online process proved faster, more accurate and seems to be preferred by people reporting bands. In the few years that the online tool has been available, it has been responsible for 60 percent of reported bands.
Bird banding is one of the earliest forms of “citizen science.” The first records of bird banding in North America are those of John James Audubon in 1803, according to the survey. He tied silver cords to the legs of young phoebes near Philadelphia. The next year, he was able to verify that two of the nestlings returned to the site of their birth the next year.
Today, federal and state biologists and researchers band thousands of birds each year as part of ongoing efforts to monitor bird population dynamics and learn more about their distribution and survival.
Much of the information biologists use come from encounters by hunters, so the success of these efforts depend primarily on hunters to report banded birds they harvest.