Banding the Baie-D’Urfé Purple Martins

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).

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Carefully removing the young birds from the nests after the condo unit has been lowered for easy access
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The adults wheel over the lake keeping an eye on procedure
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Preparing the band for application
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Affixing the band – these rotate freely and are of no hindrance to the birds
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Detailed records are maintained for each individual bird
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Ready to go back to the nest
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The band in place
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Breakfast is served
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The colony adults all return to check the nests and grumble

2 Comments

  1. Sandra Minotti | | Reply

    Awesome pictures! I wish we had some purple martins nesting close by in the east end .

  2. Ruth Balton | | Reply

    Thank heavens for bird-lovers and bird helpers everywhere!

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