Duck band sys­tem moves on­line

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COMICS | SUDOKU | CROSSWORD | PUZZLE -

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. re­port­ 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.

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