Tagged Birds

One of the interesting aspects of photographing birds is finding tagged birds. Researchers and bird banders will tag or band birds and record the location of the individual. As the birds are resighted in the future, you can record the bands and tags that you find in a special banded birds database. The database then gives you the opportunity to see all of the places that the bird has been resighted. Banding and tagging allows researchers to learn more about the habitats, behaviors and migratory routes specific bird species can be found during the year.

Tagged Birds
Tagged Red Knots

In this photo, I found these two tagged Red Knots at Fort deSoto last March. I reported both to the banded birds website and here is the history of both birds:

1MK
Captures:
3/9/2010 11:45:00 AM – Longboat Key – North, Florida, United States
Resightings:
3/23/2010 – Longboat Key – mid, Florida, United States
4/12/2010 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
4/12/2010 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
7/25/2010 – Cape Lookout National Seashore – North Core Banks, North Carolina, United States
9/12/2010 – Shell Key – North, Florida, United States
3/19/2011 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
4/14/2011 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
4/21/2011 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
5/1/2011 – Bald Point State Park, Florida, United States
5/27/2011 – Mispillion Harbor, Delaware, United States
8/14/2011 – Fort DeSoto – Mid Island, Florida, United States
3/22/2012 – Fort George Inlet area – shoals and Little Talbot Island – South, Florida, United States
3/24/2012 – Little Talbot Island State Park – North, Florida, United States
2/25/2013 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
3/10/2013 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
3/10/2013 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
8/15/2013 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States

CJ7
Captures:
11/5/2008 2:20:00 PM – South Lido Beach, Florida, United States
1/23/2011 5:10:00 PM – Longboat Key – mid, Florida, United States
Resightings:
11/7/2008 – Anna Maria Island – North, Florida, United States
3/5/2009 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
3/24/2009 – Shell Key, Florida, United States
4/1/2009 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
10/25/2009 – Fort DeSoto – Mid Island, Florida, United States
10/26/2009 – Longboat Key – mid, Florida, United States
2/3/2010 – Gulfport Municipal Beach (and mudflats), Florida, United States
2/10/2010 – Gulfport Municipal Beach (and mudflats), Florida, United States
3/1/2010 – Shell Key, Florida, United States
3/24/2010 – Shell Key, Florida, United States
3/31/2010 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
1/11/2011 – Longboat Key – North, Florida, United States
2/24/2011 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
4/29/2011 – Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge – Bar, Georgia, United States
8/31/2011 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
12/7/2011 – Longboat Key – South, Florida, United States
4/17/2012 – Kiawah Island – Mid, South Carolina, United States
11/7/2012 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
3/8/2013 – Boca Ciega – Bermuda Bay Beach & Raquet Club, Florida, United States
3/10/2013 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
3/10/2013 – Fort DeSoto, North Beach, Florida, United States
7/31/2013 – Fort DeSoto – Mid Island, Florida, United States

It’s interesting to see that 1MK has made it all the way up to Delaware. Most likely, CJ7 has made it that far north as well as May is a prime month for Red Knots to be found in Delaware. Springtime along the Mid-Atlantic coast is when the horseshoe crabs lay their eggs along the coast. Horseshoe crab eggs are a major staple in the Red Knot diet. As the nesting habitat of the horseshoe crabs dwindles with coastal development, so too does the population of the Red Knots. With less horseshoe crab eggs to feast upon, many individuals are unable to breed, feed their young or simply do not survive. Most people couldn’t care less about the fate of the horseshoe crab, but when you consider that the crabs viability affects the viability of Red Knots, suddenly the crab population is somewhat more important. And that’s how it is with many species being dependent on specific food resources. If those food resources are not available, the population of the dependent specie begins to decline. That can even create a domino affect as species dependent on the Red Knot begin to suffer.

Take a second look at the two birds in the photo. Notice that they both have the lime green flag, but they also have silver bands on their lower right legs. These bands also contain a number or series of numbers to identify the bird and where he/she was banded. But also the placement on the bird provides information to researchers. Bands and tags can be on the upper or lower leg or on the left or right leg. They can also vary in color, size and style. With hundreds of thousands of birds banded or tagged, these differences in color, size, style and leg placement make it easier for researchers to follow specific individuals. No two birds within the same species will be banded or tagged exactly the same way.

You may have noticed the large yellow box on the leg of 1MK. That is a GPS logger. This logger records periodic GPS coordinates and stores the data for researchers. When the bird is recaptured, the logger will be removed and the data downloaded so that researchers will have even more information about where the bird has been. Sightings are important, but the GPS information will identify locations that the bird visited where humans can’t get to, or where the bird’s tag information simply wasn’t recorded and submitted to the banding database. Some GPS loggers will have a small antennae attached to them and will actually transmit the tracking data periodically to researchers. These loggers don’t require the bird to be recaptured in order to collect the GPS data.

The resighting data for both birds shows they have been sighted at Fort DeSoto recently. I’ll be heading over there for vacation soon and hopefully I’ll get a chance to see them and record another sighting for both individuals.

2 Comments

  • George Meyer

    September 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I love your work, sir!

    • Michael

      September 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      Thank you, George!! I hope you and the family are doing well.