Saturday, March 7, 2015

Getting Out of Dodge

During our recent visit to Florida, we encountered a banded Piping Plover at Howard Park near Tarpon Springs. Hannah immediately recorded the colour band combination in her notebook, and later I was able to obtain a photograph.

Pimped-out Piping Plover

The upper left leg has a metal USGS numbered band. The lower left leg has an orange auxiliary band over a black band. The lower right leg has two green bands, and the upper right leg has a light blue "flag".

The flag is important because no two regions where these birds are banded will use the same colour. In this case light blue denotes that the bird was banded in the vicinity of the Platte River by staff from the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. More particularly, it was banded in Dodge County, Nebraska. If I was him I would want to get out of Dodge for the winter too!

We submitted the information about our encounter to Patuxent Bird Banding Laboratory and received a reply shortly thereafter with some additional details together with the standard "certificate of appreciation". This individual bird was banded as a hatchling on July 1, 2014. It is interesting that a Piping Plover originating from the Great Plains population would spend the winter on the Florida Gulf coast. I would otherwise have assumed that birds from the prairie population spend the winter in Texas and that this was a bird from the Atlantic coast breeding population.