Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Look What Terry Found in Florida!!

Terry Jenkins, a new CVWO board member and an able banding station volunteer, is always birding. Terry birds while playing golf or attending a sporting event or vacationing in Florida over Christmas 2009 with his wife, Josie. His vigilance provided important data from a sandbar off Fort Meyers on Christmas Day when he spotted this color-banded Piping Plover.

Thanks to e-mail and birding friends, Terry was able to learn within hours of his sighting that this individual bird was banded as a chick on the upper Missouri River as part of an on-going Virginia Tech/Army Corps study overseen by Dan Catlin from the lab of Dr. Jim Fraser, a prominent shorebird researcher. The Northern Great Plains Piping Plover population is an endangered species. [The date of marking and exact location are not known at this writing. Will update.] Remarkably, Terry also learned that Sidney Maddock of Buxton, NC had seen this same individual plover on March 12, 2008 at Estero Lagoon, Florida (just south of Fort Meyers) while doing research for Environment Canada. http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&source=hp&q=estero%20lagoon%20fl&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl

Terry's photographs provide a opportunity to understand how to record observations of color-marked birds. First, one photograph or a quick observation will not always disclose all the markings. Careful observations, a handy camera or both are critical. Here, it took two photos to confirm that the plover has a green flag on its upper left leg. [Left and right are always in relation to the bird's right or left. Upper and lower leg refer to markers above or below the "ankle" joint.] Second, the color bands on the lower left and right legs, clearly visible and not faded here, must be recorded to note their relationship with each other. Thus, the lower left leg is white over yellow and the lower right leg is red over green. Third, the upper right leg is obscured. There could be a metal USGS band, another color band or nothing above the joint. Based upon these photographs, the status is unknown and should be recorded as such. Partial observations of color-banded individuals are useful and often definitive, as it was with Terry's bird. For more information on color-marked birds see: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/aboutaux.htm

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