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FOUR Rs FOR BANDERS
Gilbert Cant
October 19, 1959
Rules of the game of banding are simple but strict. The banding station, with permits, must be open at any time for inspection by federal or state wardens. The bander must have no protected birds in his possession, except those he is in process of banding. He must tend his traps and nets frequently to remove his catch: half an hour is the usual maximum before a bird is freed, but in direct sun or high wind 15 minutes may be all a bird suspended in a net can stand. Banders take pride in low casualty rates.
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October 19, 1959

Four Rs For Banders

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Rules of the game of banding are simple but strict. The banding station, with permits, must be open at any time for inspection by federal or state wardens. The bander must have no protected birds in his possession, except those he is in process of banding. He must tend his traps and nets frequently to remove his catch: half an hour is the usual maximum before a bird is freed, but in direct sun or high wind 15 minutes may be all a bird suspended in a net can stand. Banders take pride in low casualty rates.

When he has his permits the bander gets a supply of bands, free, from the FWS. Neatly strung in numerical order, 100 at a time, on strong copper wire, they come in 14 sizes. Most door-yard banders get along with eight or nine sizes, to fit birds up to the size of a crow. With the bands, FWS sends a formidable set of forms for keeping records, the original of which must go to the Bird Banding Office soon after the close of each year. (Waterfowl schedules from summer and early-fall banding go in at once to permit prompt tracing of recoveries in the next gunning season.) The forms are as important as the bands: without accurate records banding is useless. So each New Year, every bander burns the midnight oil over stacks of data in duplicate or triplicate.

When a bander retraps a bird less than 90 days after banding he lists it as a repeat and does not pass on the record to the Bird Banding Office. But if more than 90 days have elapsed it counts as a station return and goes into Patuxent files.

When a bander traps a bird wearing another bander's band it is a foreign retrap—one form of recovery. He reports each of these to Patuxent. The Banding Office traces the number and sends out two notifications: one to the original bander, notifying him who trapped his bird, and when and where; the other to the retrapper, with data on the original banding. When a bird is shot or found dead, and its band is sent to Patuxent, this also is called a recovery; again, the Banding Office notifies both the bander and the finder.

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