Where do the birds go from here?

By LeJay Graffious

Joan Bell Pattison maintains the recovery data related to the AFMO. Fewer than 100 birds banded at AFMO have been found away from the station. This rate is low when compared to the time and effort involved to band nearly 300,000 birds, thus showing the importance of each band.  But this is understandable when thinking of AFMO as just a dot on the map in the Western Hemisphere. Compare this rate to my MAPS (Monitoring Avian Production and Survivorship) station at Old Hemlock where about 30% are recaptures from previous years. I am recapturing birds that have strong site fidelity, so they return to their home breeding grounds annually.

There have been some interesting AFMO recoveries, however. A grandson of a Brooks Bird Club member worked on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. After a storm, hundreds fatigued birds died seeking refuge on the platform. He was assigned to sweep them into the Gulf. He spied a band and sent it to his grandmother who submitted it to the Banding Lab in Laurel, Maryland only to discover it was banded in WV.

A banded bird was seen in a bird cage on the streets of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by another Brooks member. That Cape May Warbler was banded by Leon Wilson on Dolly Sods. A birder in Sidell, LA had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet coming to a feeder in her yard. Through persistence and the aid of a telescope she was able to record a few numbers at a time until all nine digits were confirmed over the course of days.

In 1995, I banded a Yellow Palm Warbler, after he had successfully made four complete round trips from the north to the wintering ground around the Gulf of Mexico. On the fifth return trip in April 2000 he struck a window on the World Trade Center, was picked up off the sidewalk, and submitted to the Banding Lab. Sadly, we know the rest of the story.