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Band Reporting and Resighting Guide

General Information

How to identify a Virginia Tech banded bird:

Image 1: Eight possible band positions shown on an adult Piping Plover banded
on the Missouri River. For all adults banded on the Missouri River, Gulf Coast,
and Southeast Atlantic Coast there is a green flag on either the upper left lower or
the upper right lower position and two color bands on each lower leg.

Virginia Tech uses Darvic flags (bands with a tab) and Darvic color bands to mark Piping Plovers, Least Terns, and Snowy Plovers. All VT plovers, with the exception of some banded in North Dakota or Fire Island National Seashore, have a green flag on either the upper left or upper right leg. Terns are not flagged, but have a USGS stainless steel band on either lower leg, sometimes in conjunction with a field-readable etched green band on the opposite lower leg, or as part of a 4-band color combination.

Bands are placed both above and below the tibiotarsal joint on plovers (terns are given bands below the tibiotarsal joint only). There are eight possible band locations on a bird’s leg according to our banding schemes: The Upper Left Upper, Upper Left Lower (left leg, above the tibiotarsal joint), Lower Left Upper, Lower Left Lower (left leg, below the tibiotarsal joint), Upper Right Upper, Upper Right Lower (right leg, above the tibiotarsal joint), Lower Right Upper, and Lower Right Lower (right leg below the tibiotarsal joint) (See Image 1).

Note: Most of our banded Piping Plovers do NOT have an aluminum USGS band, but over the years, some have received them from other researchers.

If you see a Virginia Tech plover or tern:

We are very interested in hearing about it! Please email vt.plover@gmail.com and we can provide you with the bird’s banding history and answer any questions you may have. We can also direct you to the proper bander if you resight a plover with a different color flag and don’t know who to contact. Please include in your email, if you are able:

  1. Location of the resight.
  2. Date of the resight.
  3. Description of the band combination including the color and placement of each band. You may use the guide in Image 1 to describe the band placements if that helps.
  4. If possible, a photo of the bird with combination visible.

Note: If you see a bird with an etched field-readable flag/band, please report your resight even if you cannot read the flag/band. This will help us determine the visibility of these new flags/bands.

 

Banding Schemes

Piping Plovers and Snowy Plovers banded on the Missouri River, Gulf Coast, or Southeast Atlantic Coast follow one of two banding schemes (Table 1):


Note: Snowy Plovers have been banded on the Missouri River only, 2008–2013.

  1. Birds banded or rebanded as adults have a green flag on either upper leg and two color bands on each lower leg (Image 1). Possible colors include red, orange, yellow, kelly green, dark blue, grey, white, and black. Twenty birds also have a green field-readable alphanumeric band with a two-digit number etched in white on the upper leg opposite the flag.

Note: 2013 was the first year we put orange bands on adults. Also, pink bands, which are not normally used in adult combinations, have been placed on the upper leg opposite the flag to mark injured birds.

  1. Birds banded as chicks (Missouri River only) have a green flag on either upper leg with a single color band on the opposite upper leg (either dark blue, yellow, kelly green, mint green or grey) and two color bands on either the lower left or right leg (Image 2.1). Color bands on the lower legs may be red, orange, yellow, kelly green, dark blue, grey, white, or black.

Note: Chicks banded prior to 2009 have a slightly different banding scheme, with a green flag on either upper leg and two color bands, including pink bands and various color split bands, in any of the other leg positions. However, there are very few birds with this scheme remaining.

Least Terns banded on the Missouri River follow one of three banding schemes (Tables 2.1, 2.2 & 2.3):


  1. Scheme 1 birds, all banded as adults, have two color bands on the lower left leg (red, orange, yellow, kelly green, dark blue, white, or black) and a black color band over a USGS stainless steel band on the lower right (Image 2.2).
  2. Scheme 2 birds banded as adults have a USGS stainless steel band on either lower leg and a green field-readable alphanumeric band with a two-digit ID etched in white on the opposite lower leg (Image 2.3). Those banded as chicks have either an orange or violet color band on the lower leg opposite a USGS stainless steel band.

Note: The orange band on the lower leg of chick combinations is numbered but is not meant to be field readable.

  1. Scheme 3 birds, all banded as adults, have only a USGS stainless steel band on either the lower right or lower left leg. These birds are not identifiable unless they are recaptured and the band is read.

Birds banded on Fire Island National Seashore follow one of two banding schemes (Tables 3.13.2):


  1. Scheme 1 birds have a green flag with a field-readable alphanumeric ID etched in white on the upper left leg and either a yellow or an orange band on the upper right leg (Image 2.4). Only adults receive this combination.

Note: The orange band on the upper leg is numbered, but is not meant to be field readable.

  1. Scheme 2 birds have two color bands on each upper leg and do not have a flag. Possible colors include red, yellow, kelly green, dark blue, grey, white, and black. The uppermost band is either yellow or grey.

Piping Plovers banded in North Dakota follow one of two banding schemes (Table 4):


  1. Birds banded as adults have a yellow flag on the upper right leg, green band on the upper left leg, and two color bands on each lower leg. Possible lower leg colors include red, yellow, kelly green, mint green, dark blue, and black.
  2. Birds banded as chicks have a yellow flag on the upper right leg, black/white split band on the upper left leg, and two color bands on either the lower left or lower right leg. Possible lower leg colors include red, orange, yellow, kelly green, mint green, dark blue, grey, and black.

Image 2: Various banding schemes of Piping Plovers and Least Terns: 1) Missouri River Piping Plover with a chick combination, 2) Adult Least Tern with four band combination. All terns banded with this scheme have black over USGS stainless steel band on the lower right leg, 3) Adult Least Tern with USGS stainless steel band and field readable etched green band (45), 4) Field-readable flag (84) on an adult Piping Plover banded on Fire Island National Seashore.

Explanation of Tables
These tables are designed to show Virginia Tech’s different banding schemes of plovers and terns in various sites. "A" refers to adult combos and "C" to chick combos. For example, in Table 1, the "A, C" where the red “Color Band” row meets the "Lower Left Upper/Lower" column means that there are adult combos and chick combos with a red band on the upper or lower left leg. An "A" alone would indicate that only adult combos have a red band in that position, and a "C" alone would indicate that only chick combos have a red band in that position. A dash ("–") would indicate that the color does not occur in that position for either adults or chicks. Fading does occur (in red and blue bands, in particular), and an approximate color is shown in the “Fades to” column.