Kara Cook, a member of Audubon Florida's coastal team, routinely monitors sea and shorebirds on Outback Key, a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to counting migrants and year-round residents, she keeps a close eye out for banded birds.
In October, she spotted a Piping Plover with an interesting band. Emailing her photo to the Great Lakes Piping Plover Band Reporting project at the University of Minnesota, she learned about this bird's impressive lineage.
The Piping Plover Kara spotted on Outback Key hatched in 2021 on North Manitou Island in Lake Michigan, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The plover is the offspring of the male known as "Of,BR:X,R (BRR)" - now 15 years old! If that particular plover makes it back to the breeding grounds this summer, he will be tied for the oldest Great Lakes Piping Plover ever recorded.
"I love resighting bands from any bird species," says Kara. "It’s amazing to see how far some of these banded birds have migrated and I am lucky enough to spot one on its journey. It’s gratifying to find a newly banded hatch-year fledge. It’s also just great to know that my band resights are contributing to research projects across the U.S. and even Canada."
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 of shore! Because of your eforts, 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 legs or legs have bands
• Note the color and order of bands — upper or lower and left or right leg. If the band or flag has an alphanumeric code, try to note the code
• Take a picture! Digital cameras work great through scopes and sometimes even binoculars
For information on how to report birds of all diferent species visit: FL.Audubon.org/birds/banded-birds