Banding and Database

Report your band resightings and send us your photos of Western Snowy Plovers and California Least Terns on the Pacific Coast.

California Least Tern chick being banded
California Least Tern chick being banded with a unique alphanumeric band and a red USGS metal band.

Banding individuals is invaluable to improve the accuracy of our data. We can track productivity and fledgling success, dispersal rates,  population connectivity, seasonal or inter-annual habitat needs, survival, mate choice, and recruitment of young birds.  Working with collaborators locally and internationally, we are tracking terns and plovers through coordinated banding efforts with the USGS Bird Banding Lab, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Point Blue Conservation Science, and a growing team of site managers, researchers, and volunteer ‘citizen scientists’. Our local coordinator is Travis Wooten (SDZ Senior Research Coordinator, part of our PC Birds team), for Recovery Unit 6 for plovers, and for the state of California for terns.

DATABASE: We encourage observers to submit photos of banded plovers and terns sighted anywhere along the coast, and to report any bands (guidelines below). We are currently working on a preliminary resighting database [2018 records are being proofed and added]. This public database can be viewed and downloaded, and observers can enter data manually on the bottom rows (unlocked) or via a web form. We are also building a detailed database for internal use due to data privacy for some sites, but the database will eventually be more accessible and will be built on a more versatile platform. If you wish to use these data, please contact us to discuss your needs,  and so that the appropriate research team or observers can be acknowledged. Thank you for your interest and cooperation! And stay tuned – we are working to provide an overview of recent trends in dispersal, survival and site fidelity in collaboration with our partners.

The following guidelines will help observers to report bands in a standardized way for accuracy. Thank you to all contributors!

Recording band combinations

  1. Record bands from left to right legs, starting with upper leg segments (upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right leg). Use a colon (:) to separate the legs. Bands above the joint (upper legs) should be captialized (color code).
  2. Write the USGS service band (metal, usually silver) as ‘s’. Some sites use anodized bands (chemically treated metal to add color, which can fade over time or corrode in seawater). If color is present covering the service band, use the color code below, but note the location of the leg segment where the service band is.
  3. Write plastic color bands using the color codes below.
  4. If a split color band is seen, use ‘/’ to separate each color. Split bands may include two or three colors.
  5. If any band has color tape over it, record the color code.
  6. An unbanded bird is ‘UNB’
  7. To denote that a band is absent, use ‘x’ at that location (leg).
  8. Some birds have alphanumeric bands; denote the color code, a period, and the alphanumeric code (e.g., g.C42).
  9. Similarly, for alphanumeric flags, use ‘F’ then the color code, followed by a period and then the code (e.g., Fg.A1 is a green flag with ‘A1’)
  10. For reporting, photographs are very helpful; send or save and share the URL where photo(s) may be available.
  11. Report your confidence level for the observation (1= highest confidence; 3= less confident.

Banded plover Bsa:or from the Baja California peninsula.
Example: Plover banded Bsa:or (blue above the joint, left leg, silver over aqua on lower left leg, and orange over red [faded] on the lower right leg) was photographed at northern San Diego County; it was banded in Mexico, along the Baja California peninsula.


Color codes
Plover fledgling with flag A4
Example: Plover banded B:Fg.A4 (blue above joint on left leg, and flag with ‘A4’ on right upper leg.

 Pacific Coast Bird Conservation (PC Birds)
Institute for Conservation Research – San Diego Zoo Global
15600 San Pasqual Valley Rd., Escondido, CA, 92027 USA