Friday, April 25, 2014

Banded Red Knot

Two Red Knots in front of a Black Skimmer
Two Red Knots in front of a Black Skimmer, with some Black-bellied Plovers looking on.
Crown Point Park, Mission Bay, San Diego, California. December 22, 2013. Greg Gillson.
Update: Please read Shirley's comments (below) for more info on this particular bird!

Last December I went to Crown Point Park to view Black Skimmers. [See the site guide I created.] There were several other shorebirds there, including several Red Knots. Of course, this being winter, they weren't red. But, besides just the novelty of seeing these birds that I don't get to see very often, there was something else interesting. On the left leg of the left bird you can just pick out a pale green plastic marking flag. If you click on the photo it will enlarge and you may pick out three characters: "6JX."

I reported this bird and its leg-flag number to the Bird Banding Lab. If it had been the metal leg band number I would have gotten an immediate response. But since I only had the flag number the report had to be directed to the original researcher. The response time for this varies, but in this case it was 4 months.

The Red Knot I photographed in San Diego in December 2013 was originally banded as an unknown-aged adult bird in Nome, Alaska in July 2010. So it was at least 4 years old when I found it. Other details are below.

Much can be learned from band returns such as this. For instance, perhaps several Red Knots were banded that July breeding season. Did they also go to San Diego, or perhaps somewhere else? And did they ever return to Nome? How long do they live? Was this bird reported again before I saw it? I've added one data point that might lead the researcher to significant insights.


"Where do I report banded birds?" This USGS web site is for reporting Federal metal band numbers or birds with plastic colored and/or numbered leg or wing bands. Do not report domestic pigeon leg bands, they are privately marked by pigeon owners.

Birds can be marked in several manners shown here. Why, look! The last bird in the examples here is a Red Knot--in breeding plumage.