Friday, July 3, 2009

Banding Purple Martins

I haven't posted in a while as it has been a busy start to the summer around here but I did have the chance to get out and do some banding the last three days which is kinda fun. I have a couple of friends who have Purple Martin, Progne subis, colonies and we have been banding young birds there for several years.

Late June and early July are prime banding times in this part of the country so starting on Wednesday I have been banding birds along with my friend Mark. The adults are pretty tolerant as long as we're not too close to the houses. The adults come back right away to feed young after we're done with a house. You can see the main food right now is dragonflies.

Purple Martin Colony from Roger Everhart on Vimeo.

I have a bit of video showing activity around the colony while we are there. The weather has been really good the whole time we've banded so the young birds don't get stressed.

This is one of the older young that we banded. This bird is probably 21 days old or so. Some are pretty close to fledging. This is the first year of a coordinated effort to color mark birds in order to determine state of origin when found on the wintering grounds.

Starting this year, young martins are being banded with colored bands on their left leg and USFWS bands on their right leg. In Minnesota, all birds will receive a red band with white numbers. The 3 numbers on the red band correspond to the last three numbers on the federal band. We're hoping we will be able to see and read band numbers from a distance. The hope is also to put a couple of radio transmitters on birds from this colony in order to see where they go as they stage in large flocks before starting their southward migration.

So far I have banded 95 birds and Mark has done an additional 103 young. We will go back to these colonies to finish up on birds that weren't ready to be banded yet and we are going to try to band some young at a couple of new colonies where we have spoken to the owners. By mid-July we'll be done and then it will be wait and see as far as return information. We hope that next spring we'll see lots of birds with red bands and maybe even a couple with a different color. Wouldn't that be something?!

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