Coastal Conservation

Banded Red Knot Illustrates Importance of Migration Flyway

The Coastal team's Kylie Wilson spots a banded Red Knot on Lido Key.

In early May, Audubon Florida’s Kylie Wilson photographed a Red Knot in full breeding plumage in South Lido with a green band on its left leg. Red Knots are migratory shorebirds, known for their impressive travel distances in the spring and fall. Though some winter in Florida, they breed in the High Arctic each summer.  Because their population numbers are in decline, banding data that can tell us more about their movement patterns and lifespan are especially important for long-term conservation.

This particular Red Knot, 1332-54378, was banded in 2015 by researchers in New Jersey and has been sporadically spotted in New Jersey and Delaware over the intervening years. No one has recorded the band since 2020 – until birder Betty Neupert spotted the bird in Florida and alerted Wilson.

“The coolest part is it has never been previously reported outside the Northeast! In eight years, this is the first and only report of the bird along its migratory route,” Wilson explains. 

The oldest known Red Knot reached 18 years of age – so this one likely has a long life ahead of it!  

Each year after breeding, many Red Knots fly over the Atlantic for fall migration, with some going as far south as South America for winter. The return trip typically takes them up through the Caribbean and Florida in spring to refuel. Audubon works with stakeholders across the flyway to protect Red Knots as they face the impacts of a changing climate, habitat loss, and overharvesting of horseshoe crabs, an important migratory food source. Learn more about their migration patterns and threats at the Bird Migration Explorer from Audubon's Migratory Bird Initiative and partners. 

Banded Birds: See Something, Say Something! 

Bird banding is like scientists putting a note in a bottle and tossing it back into the sea of migration. The note only gives us information if someone observes and reports it when the bottle arrives on a far-off shore! Because of your efforts, we can learn more about the movements, populations, and breeding success of our banded species.

If you see a banded bird:

• Note date, time, & location — with GPS if possible

• Note the species

• Note which leg or legs have bands

• Note the color and order of bands — upper or lower. If the band or flag has an alphanumeric code, try to note the code

• Take a picture! Digital cameras work great through scopes or binoculars and sometimes enable eagle-eyed biologists to record numbers off of the band. 

For information on how to report birds of all different species visit:

How you can help, right now