Purple Martins are a vulnerable species, almost entirely reliant on human-provided nest boxes for breeding. Managing and maintaining their populations depends on good information about their behaviour and migration patterns which, in turn, is accomplished by the use of banding. The bands are federally controlled leg bands applied to the legs of the young approximately two and a half weeks before they fledge; if and when the birds are handled again in future seasons the unique numbers on those bands will tell where they have come from, thus helping to build a picture of their travels and seasonal dispersion.
This morning, the licensed banders from the McGill Bird Observatory (MBO) visited the Purple Martin “condo” on the waterfront beside the Baie-D’Urfé town hall. Young from three nests were handled and returned safe and sound, after which the adults immediately came back, bringing their “breakfast” of shad flies.
Here is a short sequence showing the procedure (there should have been a video too, but muggins forgot to press a vital button on the camera … harrumph).