Reporting Banded Birds

American Kestrel (female) photographed by Carena Pooth

Back in February, I was driving along Rte. 55 in Union Vale, NY when I spotted this American Kestrel perched on a small tree. I pulled off the road and started taking pictures. Since the bird had a wing tag, I wanted to get a photo to send to the Bird Banding Lab. I needed the tag to show well enough for them to figure out who had banded it and notify them that the bird had been found. When the kestrel flew, the metal leg band showed in my photo, but not well enough to be read — so all they could go on was that yellow tag with the black “8” on it. Well, that 8 was good enough! I was happy to receive a certificate from the BBL that says the bird was a female banded in New Jersey (70 miles away) on 6/19/15, before it could even fly.                                          Submitted by Carena Pooth

Zach Smith, Raptor Biologist, is working on a kestrel monitoring project in Ulster County.  This past spring he color-banded 17 Adults and 15 Nestlings.  The color-bands are black with a white, 3-character code reading vertically bottom to top. Codes are two numbers followed by a capital A (females) or B (males). Example, 99A.   Kestrel researcher, Dr. John Smallwood (who banded the Kestrel Carena photographed) did a recent study on kestrel band recoveries by latitude and concluded that we are in a latitudinal zone where birds may stick around during winter.   If anyone comes across kestrels while birding this winter, Zach asks that you keep an eye open for bands and report them to him email (
 In addition to contacting Zach, please take a few minutes and report any banded bird you might come upon to the Bird Banding Laboratory (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center – USGS).   Birds are banded for research purposes in a variety of ways (click for examples). 

For more information on Bird Banding visit:

To report a banded bird:

Deb Tracy-Kral

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