The Importance of Bird Banding

A couple of weeks ago, Daryl approached me as I walked into the work. He seemed excited and told me that he had “a special project, nothing you’ve ever done before.” I began to wonder what this could be!

Maybe I would be going on an open ocean expedition to find birds migrating or maybe I would be helping them repair the aviary on the roof. All these thoughts ran through my mind about what we could be doing… Sadly, it was none of those things, but just as important.

On his way to work, Daryl came across a deceased Red-Tailed Hawk on the side of the road. Now these types of hawks are known to be “road-side specialist” as they feed on dead carcasses of animals much like vultures. With this in mind, we made the assumption that maybe this bird was feeding a little too close to the road and an auto collision inevitably happened.

With the information on the bird band clamped to the talons, we were able to help the scientist who banded the bird learn about where this hawk’s final destination.

On the USGS website, where we input the data, we were able to learn that this particular Red-tailed Hawk was hatched in 2016 in Cecil County Maryland (the bird was found in the Prince George’s County).

It was this brief moment of citizen science that helped me understand that we all have a part to play in bird conservation. By learning what habitats certain birds like, feeding and breeding habits, we can build around those areas instead of ripping it up and starting up another sky scraper.

As I’ve been interning here in DC for EFTA and ECC, I’ve started to notice that people sometimes just don’t know any better. With this learned, it is up to me to spread the knowledge of conservation and stewardship practices so we can all help out our feathered friends, whether they’re backyard birds or migrant visitors. It’s not just a job for the biologist of the world, but for everyone.

-SP

Feature Photo Credit: http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2016/03/28/Injured-hawk-soaring-through-rehabilitation.html

Stephen Poblete
[email protected]
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