Illinois Outdoors at PrairiestateOutdoors.com
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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

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A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

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Why a bird reward band?

February 13, 2008 at 02:27 PM

I’ve had some interesting conservations since Sunday’s publication of this picture. The photo shows a double-banded snow goose shot by Dan Vinovich of Pekin this goose season (which was banded as part of the Hudson Bay Project in Churchill, Manitoba in 2003 by D. Robert Rockwell from the American Museum of Natural History).

One question I’ve heard more than once is: Why offer a reward band?

The answer is to ensure a return on bands, which are designed to provide information for scientific studies. Obviously, most bird bands are not recovered and many of those that are recovered are never reported. Offering cash rewards should increase band return rates, I’d think. And obviously there’s room for improvement, considering the following numbers, pulled from the Bird Banding Laboratory’s informative Web site.

For the calendar year 2001, 1,049,646 birds were banded in the United States and Canada, and 97,204 recoveries were reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory. These included birds from the following groups:

Ducks 222,006 banded; 48,576 recovered
Geese (includes Brant) 132,295 banded; 39,766 recovered
Swans 1,063 banded; 555 recovered
Doves 4,329 banded; 156 recovered
Woodcock 934 banded; 94 recovered
Nongame 689,019 banded; 8057 recovered

Included in Nongame birds are hawks and owls, most (non-waterfowl) endangered species, wading birds, and songbirds (including neotropical migrants) as well as other birds that are not eaten as game.

In 2001, the following Nongame birds were banded or recovered:

Eagles 539 banded; 159 recovered
Hawks and Owls other than eagles 43,249 banded; 1500 recovered
Herons, Egrets, Ibis, and Bitterns 864 banded; 19 recovered
Gulls and Terns 54,397 banded; 1341 recovered
Shorebirds 16,320 banded; 136 recovered
Vireos and Warblers 131,110 banded; 89 recovered

The second question about double-banding was from Jim Miller of Dunlap, who had seen a double-banded eagles during his photographic journeys (Miller is a gifted nature photographer who takes cool trips all over the place in pursuit of critters and birds). Anyway, he wondered why an eagle would have a double band. Might they also carry a reward band?

Not sure. But judging by the amazing recovery rate of eagle bands (159 of 539 in 2001) there’s something prompting people to report bald eagle bands.

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