Reading Bands and Preparing for the 2002 Nesting Season
Marta Curti— 9 April 2002 — in Aplomado Falcon Restoration Share
This year, we have been presented with an additional challenge. It has become a top priority to read each falcon’s band in order to determine where the bird had been released, if the same birds are holding the same territories year after year, and if pairs mate for life or not.
Since 1998, birds have, and continue to be, banded with easy-to-read metal bands. Prior to that, the colored bands were made of plastic, which by now have worn so badly we are lucky if the band stayed on at all. However, if it did, chances are it has faded so much that it is difficult to determine what color it once was, let alone read any number or letter which may have been etched on it at one time. So, for the older birds, we are forced to squint through our scopes in an attempt to read the federal band which is composed of an impossibly small eight- or nine-digit number series, meant to be read only when the bird is in the hand. Despite all this, we have so far located 31 pairs and have read 53 bands. And, with each new band read, we gain a bit more information about the individual falcons that we are observing, and we increase our knowledge about the behavior and biology of the species as a whole.
To know that a bird I watched every day for over two months has survived on her own and may soon be raising young of her own in the wild is a thrilling experience. And, in my third season on the Aplomado Falcon Project, nothing has felt more rewarding. In a job where you can go days without even seeing a falcon at all, it is moments like that, that remind you why you love what you do. And it is moments like that when you don’t even notice the heat or the mosquitoes at all.
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