Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Banding/Tagging Plovers

Tagged Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover
 Above is a Semipalmated Plover.  I saw many of these on a recent trip to the Acadian Peninsula along with many other species of shorebirds.  Shorebird migration is well along now and such species as Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, White-rumped Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, etc. are common on our sandy, muddy ocean shores.

On Miscou Island near Wilson's Point I saw a tagged Semipalmated Plover among the many 'peeps'.  It appeared to have a flag (tag) on its left leg.  With special binocular focusing I could read the number on the tag, 'EE4'.  I photographed the bird to confirm my report.

Tagged Semipalmated Plover
The top photo above shows a Semipalmated Plover in breeding plumage.  Immediately above shows the tagged plover which is in basic plumage.  That means it has changed its plumage to a less dramatic colouring which is normal for late summer.  It basically has a new set of feathers making it ready for its long flight to wintering grounds along the southern Atlantic coast of the US and Mexico and the West Indies.

The tagged bird was seen on August 26.  I reported it to the NB Bird Information Line and got a response the same day which referred me to a group who were doing bird banding in New Brunswick.  Here is what I found out.  The bird was tagged 3 weeks before in the same area.  At the time of tagging it was underweight.  That is often the case in newly arrived birds.  They usually remain in the same area to feed and gain weight before their next long flight.  That is what this bird was doing; resting in the same area and feeding heavily.  The information I provided also showed that the bird was doing well and enabled the team to check their transmission towers information accuracy which confirmed the location of the bird.

Tagged Semipalmated Plover
This plover has a tag (flag) on its left leg above the tarsus, a band on its right leg and a transmitter on its back feathers.  The tag and the band can be seen in the two photos above.  The transmitter cannot be seen but a fine wire running from it to the ground behind the bird can be seen on careful scrutiny.  The transmitter is temporary.  It will be shed at the next molt.  My observation of this bird showed the bird is coping well with its tags and transmitter and is contributing to the study on bird movements and feeding areas.  The data from this study will contribute to our understanding and protection of shorebird activity and movements.

The team studying shorebird migration which banded this bird is from Mount Allison University working in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service.  They were happy to receive information on this bird.  Tagged birds should be reported to

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