One of the most exciting things for me as a birdwatcher/bird bander is finding a healthy living bird with a band on its leg.
If you have ever seen a songbird with a band on its leg, I would say good luck reading that band with binoculars or a spotting scope! Only a really cooperative bird is going to sit there until you read that band. It is difficult enough reading the number of a size 0A band in the hand!!
At this time of year, Mallards and Wood Ducks begin staging in the Waterfowl Park Display Ponds (which is right across from the Conexus Art Centre, in Regina). There can be up to 800 ducks in there at this time of year. When I go in to feed our injured captive waterfowl flock (snow geese, mute swans, Canada Geese, ducks, etc), all these other birds come over to enjoy the grain we put out. These ducks are so bold that they will come up to feed even when you are sitting 2 meters away.
This is a perfect time to watch for banded birds. A Mallards band is big enough that you can actually read the digits on it! So I was delighted to see atleast 4 birds carrying bands on their legs the other day. Out came the binos.
This male Mallard was one of the birds that had a band on his leg, as you can see. I was able to read off his band number - 1667-59235. Then I rushed back to the office to submit the data to http://www.reportband.gov/ and discover the info on this bird.
It turns out this bird was banded 7 km east of Mirror, Alberta on July 28, 2004!
It was aged as an After Hatch Year (meaning it was atleast 1 year old at the time, but we don't know if it was any more, could be 1, 5, or older we just can't tell). Regardless this bird was atleast 8 years old! He has done pretty good. Below is a copy of the Certificate of Appreciation USGS and CWS send you when you submit a band recovery. This is for the mallard above.
Remember check those birds for bands! Every little piece of information can help understand more about these birds!