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Banding Protocol

eBird was built as a monitoring tool for wild birds observed in the field, and uses a combination of duration and distance traveled to understand how field observers detect birds.

Banding (or ringing) operations use fine mesh to entrap birds for study and have fundamental biases in how they detect birds that are very different from field observations. Secretive, understory species are often captured in much higher proportions, while treetop and highly aerial species—conspicuous to birders—are undersampled in banding efforts. We do welcome banding records, as they provide valuable information on the occurrence of a species at a date and location. But eBird has been built to understand frequency, abundance, or other effort-based metrics for field observations, not for banding effort.

For these reasons it is very important that birds captured in banding efforts NOT be entered in eBird unless they were independently detected, free-flying, birds seen or heard either before or long after their release from the nets.

For those that wish to enter birds captured during banding operations, please use the Banding Protocol to record birds captured during banding. Note that how you answer the "Are you reporting all species" question has important implications, so please make sure you understand this fully before using this protocol. The Banding Protocol can be accessed from the drop-down list within eBird. When using this protocol, please:

  1. Indicate whether you are reporting all species observed. Using the Banding Protocol, "Yes" means that you are reporting all species captured in the nets and all species seen or heard during that period. If you answer "No", you can report only the birds that were captured in the nets or only a subset of highlights. 
  2. The duration, time, and number of observers fields are required. Please fill these out, with number of observers indicating those working at the banding station and helping with the operation of the station or visiting the station. If you do not have duration, time, or number of observers, you can use Historical (if you have some of these values or are submitting a complete checklist as defined above) or Incidental (if you have none of these values).
  3. Although typical banding operations collect lots of data on morphometrics (wing length, bill length etc.), condition (fat and molt scores), and much more (including band number etc.), eBird is not meant to properly archive this information. Feel free to enter this information in comments for your personal notes, and please include supportive information (including measurements, if relevant) for any rarities. But to properly archive banding records and all their associated information in the Americas, please get in touch with LaMNA.
  4. Listing: Birds you report using this protocol will appear on your personal lists. Some birders may not wish for these birds to appear on their personal lists, since some listing rules (e.g., those by the American Birding Association) do not allow the counting of birds trapped for banding. If this is the case, you can create a separate account where you enter your banding records and we do encourage you to do this.
The best practice when working at a banding station is to keep two separate lists: first keep a complete list including only the species seen or heard (but not captured/banded) and submit those as a Traveling or Stationary Count checklist, with effort data. Second, captured/banded birds would be submitted in a separate checklist, using the Banding Protocol and answering "No" to the "Are you reporting all species" question."

However, we also understand that it is sometimes not possible to keep the two lists separate while working at a banding station, and in these cases, a single list including mist-netted birds and those seen or heard in the field is acceptable provided that you submit using the Banding Protocol and indicate "Yes" to "Are you reporting all species".

NOTE: Certain targeted banding operations (e.g., raptor banding, hummingbird banding, shorebird netting) necessarily involve observation of birds in the field prior to capturing them. In these cases, the Banding Protocol should not be used, since these species were also observed visually prior to being captured. The key distinction above is for species that would not otherwise have been detected, such as when mist nets in forests, scrub, or marshes are used to catch birds that are generally secretive. 
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