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Banded Birds

The Wildlife Care Center occasionally receives banded birds. The birds' bands can provide valuable information on migration, behavior and life spans of birds.

Northern Spotted Owl with band - Scott Carpenter
Banded Northern Spotted Owl - Scott Carpenter

The Wildlife Care Center occasionally receives banded birds. These bands allow scientists to track individual birds throughout their lives, a process that provides valuable information about birds' migration, behavior and life spans.

Migratory birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and only banders permitted by the Bird Banding Laboratory are able to catch and band birds. There are currently 6,500 permitted banders in the United States. When banded birds are found (injured, dead, or identified in the wild), they can be reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory - we take this step whenever the care center receives a banded bird. This information is tracked and compiled and a report is sent back to the bander.  

According the Bird Banding Laboratory, the first record of bird banding in North America was by John James Audubon. In 1803 he tied silver cords to the legs of a brood of phoebes near Philadelphia and was able to identify two of the nestlings when they returned to the neighborhood the following year. 

More information on the Bird Banding Laboratory can be found at www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL.

Care Center Examples

Below are a few of the banded birds that have been admitted to the Wildlife Care Center.

Sept. 2, 2014: A female American Kestrel was found in Ridgefield, Wash., with two fractures in her wing; we were not able to determine the cause of injury. We euthanized the kestrel after an exam revealed that the tip of the bird’s wing couldn’t be saved. She was originally banded in Scappoose, Ore., in August 2012.

Nov. 28, 2013: A banded Red-tailed Hawk was found dead along a highway near Springfield, Ore., likely after being hit by a car. In early 2013, the hawk had spent three months recovering at the Wildlife Care Center after getting stuck between two shipping containers in northeast Portland.

Jan. 6, 2013: The care center took in a female American Kestrel with a fractured leg. She was federally banded in August 2011 in Scappoose, Ore., and hatched in 2010 or earlier.

Dec. 22, 2012: A male Cackling Canada Goose was brought in after falling out of the sky with 9 others, all dead. It had been federally banded July 9, 2009 as an adult at Wade Hampton Census Area in Alaska. It hatched in 2008 or earlier.

Sept. 24, 2012: An Osprey came in from the Columbia River near Portland. It had a compound fracture in its wing, and due to the severity of the fracture and its location, the bird was euthanized. It was originally banded on July 9, 2000 as a hatch-year bird in Coeur D Alene, Idaho. The sex was unknown.

March 1, 2006: A Glaucous-Winged Gull was found in southwest Portland with a severe wing injury that was not repairable. The gull was banded as a nestling on Aug. 16, 1990 near Oak Bay, B.C. This Glaucous-winged Gull lived to be 16 years old.

Jan. 12, 2006: A Red-tailed Hawk was found in Vancouver, Wash. with a severe wing injury. It was treated in the Wildlife Care Center for two months, but its wing did not heal well enough for the bird to fly. It was euthanized because it would never be able to return to the wild. It was banded as a hatch-year bird on Sept. 13, 2004 near St. Helens, Ore.

Jan. 9, 2006: An adult Cooper’s Hawk was brought to the Wildlife Care Center after being found dead in a parking lot in northwest Portland. The hawk was banded as a hatch-year bird on Aug. 23, 2002 near Scappoose, Ore.

Nov. 5, 2005: A Red-tailed Hawk was found on the side of the road near the Sauvie Island Bridge. It was most likely hit by a car and suffered a compounded fracture on its left wing. The injury was not repairable and the hawk was euthanized. Hawkwatch International banded the Red-tailed Hawk on Aug. 31, 2005 at Bonney Butte, near Government Camp, Ore. The hawk was hatched in 2005.

In July 2003, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Agent brought a Common Loon into the Wildlife Care Center. The loon was reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife and they found it struggling in an open ditch on a golf course in Salem, Ore. After being examined at the care center, the loon was found to be underweight and had suffered minor injuries to its bill. The loon had a yellow band with a black stripe on its right leg and a federal band on its left leg. After reporting the band number to the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory, we found that the Biodiversity Research Institute banded the loon as a chick in the spring of 2003 on Swan Lake in Washington.

What To Do If You Find A Banded Bird

If you find a dead bird with a band you can report it directly to the Bird Banding Laboratory at www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL or 1-800-327-2263. For injured birds, call the Audubon Society of Portland's Wildlife Care Center at 503-292-0304.

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