The authors examined the legal, scientific, and philosophical underpinnings of the North American Bird Banding Program [BBP], with emphasis on the U.S. Bird Banding Laboratory [BBL], but also considering the Canadian Bird Banding Office [BBO]. In this report, we review the value of banding data, enumerate and expand on tile principles under which any modern BBP should operate, and from them derive our recommendations. These are cast into a Mission Statement, a Role and Function Statement, and a series of specific recommendations addressing five areas: (1) permitting procedures and practices; (2) operational issues; (3) data management; (4) BBL organization and staffing; and (5) implementation. Our major tenets and recommendations are as follows: banding provides valuable data for numerous scientific, management, and educational purposes, and its benefits far outweigh necessary biological and fiscal costs, especially those incurred by the BBL and BBO; because of the value of banding data for management of avian resources, including both game and nongame birds, government support of the program is fully justified and appropriate; all banding data, if collected to appropriate standards, are potentially valuable; there are many ways to increase the value of banding data such as by endorsing, promoting, and applying competence and/or training standards for permit issuance; promoting bander participation in well-designed projects; and by encouraging the use of banding data for meta-analytical approaches; the BBL should apply, promote, and encourage such standards, participation, and approaches; the BBP should be driven by the needs of users, including scientists and managers; all exchange of data and most communication between banders and the BBL should become electronic in the near future; the computer system at the BBL should be modernized to one designed for a true client-server relationship and storage of data in on-line relational databases; the BBL should continue to maintain high quality control and editing standards and should strive to bring all data in the database up to current standards; however, the BBL should transfer a major portion of the responsibility for editing banding data to the bander by providing software that will permit the bander to edit his/her own data electronically before submission to the BBL; the BBL should build the capacity to store additional data tied to original band records able to be pre-edited and submitted electronically, such as recapture data, appropriate data from auxiliary marking (e.g. resightings of color-marked birds), and other data that gain value when pooled from many banders (e.g., measurements); however, the BBL should only accept such data if they are collected using standardized methods and as part of an established program designed to utilize such data; now is the time to consider options for implementing a Western Hemisphere banding program, with leadership from the BBL; the Patuxent Electronic Data Processing Section should become part of the BBL; additional scientific and technical staff must be added to the BBL; an Implementation Team should be formed to expedite our recommendations, following timetables outlined in this document.
Additional publication details
The North American Bird Banding Program: Into the 21st century