Sunday, July 21, 2019

Meet the Banded Birds of Marco Island



Biologists across the world tag thousands of birds each year with unique leg bands, giving identities to individual birds. Sightings of these banded birds help answer questions about bird movements, lifespans, and survival. In Marco Island, you can find banded birds that live here year-round, and “snowbirds” that only visit for the winter. Here, we share the story of one banded bird found in Marco Island.


Meet Burrowing Owl “1094-65015”

Did you know there are burrowing owls living in the Naples area? Owl “1094-65015” was banded by researchers as a chick last June along Swallow Ave in Marco Island. He was recently found eight miles north in Fiddler’s Creek with a mate, nesting in an electrical box! This is one of the first records of burrowing owls dispersing away from their natal home of Marco Island. We’re looking forward to learning more as we locate more banded owls and track them through the next several years.

All birds banded in the United States are required to be banded with a metal band issued by the Bird Banding Laboratory at USGS. Each band is engraved with a unique number, like “1094-65015” – sort of like a social security number for birds! This number gives each individual banded bird and identity and is used for record-keeping by both federal agencies and independent researchers.

Have you seen a banded bird? Send a photo or description to Audubon Florida biologist Adam DiNuovo at adinuovo@audubon.org.

Alli Smith is a current M.S. student at the University of Florida. Alli was introduced to a charming population of urban burrowing owls, and to the passionate volunteers that monitor them under the guidance of Audubon of the Western Everglades (AWE). Current research is looking at burrowing owl space use, population genetics, and nesting site selection.

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