Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Watch for flagged Piping Plovers

Below is a message passed along to us by Environment Canada, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. You can report banded or flagged Piping Plovers following the directions below but please also include us at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com in any email chain. Alternatively if you would like we can take care of reporting them for you entirely. Thank you!

With the help of local Piping Plover monitors in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, researchers from Environment Canada captured 28 adult plovers on nest (14 males and 14 females) in June 2013, uniquely marking them with a metal band on the left upper leg and a coded black or white flag on the other upper leg.  Codes are 2 characters, of letters and/or numbers, on the flag tab.  (Flags are colour bands with a tab sticking out slightly from the leg – see attached photo).

The code is unlikely to be read without the use of a telescope or telephoto lens.  If you see one of these birds and are able to read the flag (or take a photo of the flag), please report the sighting to Dr. Cheri Gratto-Trevor at cheri.gratto-trevor@ec.gc.ca or 306-975-6128.  Please note the flag colour and behaviour and location of the bird, as well as the date.  The work in 2013 was intended to test the effectiveness of the flags on Piping Plovers, for a potential future study aimed at determining why Eastern Canada plover numbers are still declining, even though productivity is usually high.

Additionally, please be on the lookout for other Piping Plovers bearing coded flags. 

Per the message above, coded white and black flags (with alphanumerics) were applied in New Brunswick and should be reported to Cheri Gratto-Trevor (cheri.gratto-trevor@ec.gc.ca).

Sightings of Piping Plovers with green flags should be reported to Virginia Tech.  Some of the green flags are also coded, so all green flag sightings (both with and without lower leg bands) should be sent to  vt.plover@gmail.com(regardless of whether the flag is readable or not).  The green coded flags have 2 characters (white on green). 

Observations of Piping Plovers with color bands on only the upper legs (some of these have one band on each upper leg, some have two bands per upper leg) and no flags should be reported to both Virginia Tech (vt.plover@gmail.com) and to Michelle Avis at State University of NY (mlavis@syr.edu).

Please provide a detailed description of the bands and flags (their colors and positions on the legs), the location where the bird was sighted (latitude and longitude are the best) and the date of the sighting.   Photos of the bird are always the best documentation of the band combination.  Please report sightings of Piping Plovers that you believe carry coded flags, even if you are unable to read the alphanumerics, as that information may help us assess the utility of this marking system.

Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, Audubon Connecticut and the Connecticut Audubon Society partnering to improve conditions for coastal waterbirds in Connecticut.

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