Finding And Reporting Bird Bands: What You Need To Know
Q: I found a bird band and I would like to report it. Whom do I contact?
A: Congratulations! First, you need to determine whether the band was issued by the United States Geological Survey’s Bird Banding Lab; BBL. The BBL oversees all permits for banding species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States. Federal bands have a four-digit prefix, a hyphen and then a five-digit suffix, and display the website www.reportband.gov, which is where you report your finding. Older bands displaying a phone number should be reported through the federal website as well. When you submit a report of your finding, the BBL will send you a certificate with information about where the bird was banded.
The BBL does not oversee the banding of native galliforms (quail, grouse and turkey), introduced galliforms (coturnix quail, ring-necked pheasant and chukar) or non-native dove (rock pigeon and Eurasian collared-dove). The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) may band these species when conducting specific research projects. A band purchased by the state will display the letters CDFW or DFG and can be reported to the department’s upland game bird biologist.
CDFW also administers scientific collecting permits for researchers. Researchers who work on migratory bird species need federal and state permits. Alternatively, some researchers may study galliforms or other birds not covered under the federal permit and banding program. If you find a band without state or federal identifiers, you can report it to CDFW.
Improving Deer Habitat
Q: What is CDFW doing to increase the deer population?
A: CDFW is involved in efforts statewide to improve deer habitat. For example, our Private Lands Management Program works to improve habitat on private lands and ranches. We’ve helped nonprofits like the California Deer Association obtain grant funding for habitat improvements. CDFW is working on collaborations with private and public landowners and managers on land management plans and strategies. Additionally, CDFW is developing a statewide deer management plan that will be supplemented with area-specific conservation plans. We are also beginning to implement long-term monitoring plans that will utilize current methods to assess and monitor deer populations. These monitoring plans will help CDFW staff procure data on current density, and trends over time, of key conservation units. Monitoring efforts will include fecal DNA and camera surveys supplemented in conjunction with periodic GPS collaring.
Q: I thought I saw a mussel-smelling dog checking boats in San Luis Obispo County. Have Quagga mussels made their way to the Central Valley?
A: We can happily report that CDFW has not detected any new mussel infestations in the Central Valley — thanks to boaters taking action to “clean, drain and dry” their watercraft, and early-detection monitoring by water managers. The only known infestation in the Central Valley, an infestation of zebra mussels, occurred in 2008. Many Central Valley water managers are actively implementing mussel prevention programs to screen watercraft for mussels. CDFW advises boaters to call destinations ahead of their arrival for information on launch requirements. CDFW does maintain a contact list of watercraft inspection programs (PDF) to assist boaters, but we can’t guarantee that it’s comprehensive. Additionally, we’re not sure about the dog you saw, but it may have been a private K9 service that contracts with local agencies.
Q: How do I protect nesting birds while I prune/remove my backyard trees and vegetation?
A: Thank you for your interest in protecting California’s birds while managing backyard plants. Many California birds nest in backyard trees, bushes and even on the ground. Nesting birds are particularly sensitive to human disturbance and may abandon their nest, eggs and/or young due to human presence and noise. In addition, pruning or removing vegetation can inadvertently crush, destroy or remove active bird nests.
The California Fish and Game Code (FGC) contains several sections outlining protections for birds, their eggs and nests. FGC section 3503 covers unlawful take, possession or needless destruction of nests or eggs of any bird. FGC section 3503.5 covers take, possession or destruction of birds of prey or their nests or eggs. FGC section 3513 covers unlawful take of any migratory nongame bird. Migratory birds are also protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
To protect nesting birds, CDFW recommends working outside of the nesting bird season, which for many species across California is typically considered February through August, although the season can vary based on location and species of bird. Birds nest every month of the year in some parts of California! If you must work when birds could be nesting, hire a consulting biologist to perform a nesting bird survey prior to the work. If nesting birds are present, a biologist can recommend an appropriate protective buffer where no activities should occur so as to avoid disturbing the nest. Alternately, work could be delayed until the nesting is complete.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in the California Outdoors Q and A column, email it to CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.