I want to learn more about the owls’ leg bands

Among other things, banding birds allows us to gain knowledge of how long they live and where they live and/or migrate.  Much of data that’s gathered from banded birds can come from band numbers read from birds that are found dead or captured and released.  However, the bands on birds the size of these owls can often be read with a spotting scope or, in this case, a zoom camera.

Birdbanding was formally regulated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, but now by the USGS.  You must have a permit to band birds and this is also regulated by USGS.  Every band has a unique # on it and all bands are tracked in a database managed by USGS.  In addition, the proper band sizes are known and, in most cases, every individual of a particular species will wear the same sized band.  Last, raptor (birds of prey) chicks grow so rapidly that often by the time they are two weeks old their legs are large enough to comfortably wear and adult sized band

The adult BNOWs currently using the cavity have a US Fish & Wildlife Service aluminum leg band on their right leg. The male also has a “Monel” brand leg band on his left leg. Monel bands normally have the bander’s name and telephone number and a unique number.  It has been found that people will tend to more often report a band if there is a name and local telephone # on it.  Young BNOWs that hatch in this cavity will get a single aluminum band btw 2-6 weeks of age.  They normally fledge around 7.5-8 weeks.

If you find a bird with a band you can report it online or call the 800 # found on more recent bands.  In the past reporting was done by mail and you could simply send the info to “Bird Band, Laurel, MD”.  By any method, the Bird Banding Lab (BBL) will get back to you with information about when and where the bird was originally banded.

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