Articles From The March Newsletter

Apr 1, 2024 | The Sandpiper

Hello Great South Bay Audubon members and friends: We are ready to start a wonderful bird ing season with many activities. We are planning hikes, a dinner, a festival, and presentations related to birding, nature and the environment.

In order to present these activities, we depend on the dues and donations of members and others. In the past people paid dues when they joined. This will still be the case. However, in order to better have members know whether they paid or not, all dues are now due in February. I understand that members for the most part have been unaware of this new policy.

We encourage our participants and former members to please send in your membership dues at this time. You can access a membership application or pay through Pay Pal by going to our website

Thank you and have a wonderful birding season. – Joe Abraham

Ten Things I learned by Reporting Bird Bands ​on Long Island
By Lisa Nasta

Did you see

One day in December of 2016 I was sitting in my car in a McDonald’s parking lot in Islip eating French fries and there was a gull sitting on the hood of my car looking at me through the windshield.

I noticed it had a band on one of its legs that was blue with white letters “LTL”. I took a photo of it and reported the band information to where most bands can be reported.

I received a certificate of appreciation via email telling me that the gull was a female banded as an adult that spring near Varennes, Quebec Canada. This was my very first encounter with a banded bird.

Since then, I have reported on over 100 banded birds on Long Island. Based solely on my personal experience, here are ten things that I have learned:

1.Ring-billed gulls are banded on their breeding grounds near Varennes, Quebec Canada.

This is true for all 16 that I have reported. Four of which I have encountered in multiple years in the same area. Since 2009, 15,000 ring-billed gulls have been banded by researchers from The University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM)

2. Some birds can live at least 20 years.

In 2018 I spotted a Royal Tern at Islip Beach with a leg band “EYY” (see photo). Imagine my surprise to find out it was banded as a chick in 1998 in Ocean City, Maryland 20 years ago! Then in 2020 a Common Tern I spotted at Nickerson Beach was banded on Great Gull Island as a chick in 2000 who was also 20 years old! They are the oldest birds I have reported so far. Not far behind were an 18 and a 16-year-old Brant seen at Heckscher State Park in 2021.

3. A bird may have a duplicate color-coded band number.

Most birds can be identified by reporting the color-coded band and they are much easier to read in the field than the federal band. But to my surprise, for one American Oystercatcher I saw at Nickerson Beach I was asked if I also knew what the federal band number was or at least a partial because there was another American Oystercatcher with the same code. Unfortunately, I did not photograph that band, so the bird was left unidentified.


4. Banded Herring Gulls and Great black-backed gulls come from Maine.

So far, of the 5 gulls I have seen all have been banded in Maine. Three of which were banded on Appledore Island. You can report Appledore gull bands on the Gulls of Appledore website and in return will get a history of the gull. For instance, one Great- blacked back gull I saw at Heckscher State Park in October of 2020 was 12 years old, a well-documented breeder and this was the first time it was spotted off Appledore
island. One of the Herring gulls also seen at Heckscher State Park in October of 2020 was 8 years old and has been reported multiple times on Long Island in the first few years of its life then not reported again until a year before I saw it.

5. Common Loons have a combination of color-coded leg bands on both legs.

In Feb 2021, I photographed a Common Loon on the water at Jones Beach CGS with right leg bands visible (see photo). I contacted Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) who have a Loon research and conservation program. Unfortunately, they needed to know the color codes on the left leg as well (or a partial on the federal band) to narrow it down to the individual bird and I did not get a photo of the left leg or a glimpse of the color. They were only able to tell me that it was banded as an adult and it could have been one of several Loons banded from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or New York (Adirondacks).

6. Mallards migrate.

In my ignorance, I thought of Mallards as being a year-round local pond duck, but a banded drake I saw in Dec 2021 on Pine Lake in West Islip proved different. It was banded that September near Pembroke, Ontario Canada.

7. Many Atlantic Brant were banded locally.

Out of the 20 Brant I have reported, 14 were banded locally in Oakdale NY in Feb. of 2021. 5 were banded in Nunavut, Canada in the summer in various years. One was banded in Atlantic City, NJ Feb. 2019. A few were also fitted with backpack transmitters and or leg geolocators (see photo) all part of an Atlantic Brant migration and breeding ecology study in collaboration with a few wildlife agencies NYDEC, NJDEP and CWS.

8. Some Royal Terns head here in the fall before heading south for the winter.

Of the 24 Royal Terns I have reported most (22) were banded in Hampton City or Chincoteague, Virginia. One was in Maryland and one in North Carolina. Time frame was approximately from the end of August to the end of October. A few have been seen for multiple years.

9. Bands can sometimes fall off.

This past week I saw a Ring-billed gull at Islip beach with a federal band. I recorded the number and checked it against my spreadsheet of all the birds I have ever reported. It turns out this bird was a match to a gull I have also seen at Islip Beach in 2020 and 2022 but during those instances it also had a color-coded band, but this time it did

not. Sometime in the last two years it lost its color-coded band. 10. Lastly, there is so much to learn about birds.

Bird banding data are useful in both scientific research and conservation. Researchers can learn about dispersal and migration, lifespan and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth or decline. I am happy to do my part.

Additional bird species on Long Island I have reported not mentioned above: Piping Plovers, Peregrine Falcons, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Canada Geese, Snow Goose, Mute Swan, Northern Shoveler, Glaucous Gull, and Black Skimmers.

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May Newsletter

May Newsletter

Hello, my little birding friends! Hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the birds. The winter birds and ducks have left, and the spring and summer ones are arriving. Some are just passing by, and some will stay.