A Moment of Science

A Band of Birds

On this Moment of Science I’ll tell you what to do if you find a dead bird that’s been banded.

If you ever find a dead bird that has been banded, do your part for science by calling 1-800-327-BAND and reporting the number on the band. Who knows what valuable information you’ll be able to provide to scientists.

Scientists can learn an abundance of information when looking at a band. For instance, they can learn where the bird came from. Before banding, people could only speculate about where birds flew every winter or spring, and what routes they traveled. For example, did you know the Arctic Tern travels twenty-five thousand miles?

Band recoveries are what helped scientists learn about the tern’s flying ability and migratory patterns. Also, when birds are trapped over and over again through the years, this gives scientists a sense of their lifespan. How else can you know if the cardinal at your bird feeder is the same one that was there last year? Plus, some researchers use bands that are easily visible to help them tell birds apart so they can study their social habits from a distance. Banding can also help scientists estimate the size of bird populations.

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