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Banding
Toolbox

Activity #1
piping plover

Piping Plover Profile:

USGS# 2771-91294
This plover was banded at Western Sand & Gravel mine in Nebraska. It is an adult male, captured in 2015.

Note: the bird's legs are labeled right (R) and left (L). This indicates the bird's right and the bird's left as it stands facing you, the viewer.

Instructions:

Record your banding combinations in your field journal. Click the icon to download and print, then go to the next tab.

field journal

Instructions:

Drag the correct USGS metal band onto the bird’s upper leg. Age determines placement. For adult birds, place on upper left leg. For chicks, place on upper right leg.

Explanation:

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS marker) is a metal band with a nine-digit number that is entered into a federal database. This number is unique and individually marks the bird.

USGS Band 2771-00125

2771-00125

USGS Band 2771-91294

2771-91294

Instructions:

Determine where the bird was banded. Select the colored flag that matches that region. Drag the correct flag onto bird’s upper leg (opposite metal band).

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region map

Map: banding regions that correspond with colored flags.


The Northern Great Plains include North Dakota (yellow flag) and South Dakota (green flag). The birds nest on river sandbars, wetlands, sandpits, and beaches. In Nebraska (light blue) the birds nest and breed along the Platte River system in addition to portions of the Missouri, Niobrara, Loup, and Elkhorn Rivers. The Great Lakes (orange flag) includes plovers nesting on several Great Lakes beaches in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Piping Plovers winter along the Gulf of Mexico (red flag) and South Atlantic Coast (black flag).

blue region flag

Great Plains Nebraska

orange region flag

Great Lakes, Wisconsin or Michigan

green region flag

Missouri River South Dakota

yellow region flag

Missouri River North Dakota

red region flag

Gulf Coast Texas

black region flag

Bahamas

Instructions:

Sex is determined for adult birds only. Drag the correct color band onto the top position on the lower right leg.

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Male

male plover

Female

female plover

Sex: Biologists can determine the sex of piping plover adults by their beaks. Both male and female beaks have an orange base with a black tip. There is a line between the black and the orange. In males, the line is vertical; in females, the line is more fuzzy or feathered. This is the only visible difference between the two.

red band

Male

green band

Female

black band

Chick

Instructions:

Determine the year the bird was banded. Drag the correct color band onto the top position on the lower left leg. It is the top color, below the metal band.

gray band

2010

yellow band

2011

black band

2014

red band

2015

Instructions:

Determine specific site the bird was captured and banded. Drag the correct color band onto the bottom position on the lower right leg.

red band

Lakeshore Retreat

gray band

U.S. Gulf Coast

black band

Lake Superior

yellow band

Western Sand & Gravel Mine

Instructions:

Describe site type. Was it a housing development, sand and gravel mine or sandbar? Drag the correct color band onto the bottom position on the lower left leg.

gray band

Housing Development

yellow band

Sand & Gravel Mine

black band

Sandbar

plover legs
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Field
Journal

Activity #2

Instructions:

Use the drop down arrows to select your band and flag combinations. If you can't see the USGS#, zoom in by clicking on the binoculars.

binoculars
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banded piping plover
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Banding
Quiz

Activity #3

Instructions:

Study the band combination on the bird’s legs below. Select the Piping Plover profile on the right that best matches the banding combination. If needed, refer back to the Banding Toolbox for colors. Band positions are listed below

banding key
  • Quiz 1 of 4

    banded piping plover

    Piping Plover 1:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Lakes, Wisconsin
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2011
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 2:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Bahamas
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2011
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 3:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Missouri River, North Dakota
    • Sex: Chick
    • Banding Year: 2015
    • Site Captured: Western Sand & Gravel Mine
    • Site Type: Mine

    Piping Plover 4:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Lakes, Wisconsin
    • Sex: Male
    • Banding Year: 2014
    • Site Captured: Lake Superior
    • Site Type: Housing Development
  • Quiz 2 of 4

    banded piping plover

    Piping Plover 1:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Plains, Nebraska
    • Sex: Male
    • Banding Year: 2014
    • Site Captured: Western Sand & Gravel Mine
    • Site Type: Sand & Gravel Mine

    Piping Plover 2:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Bahamas
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2011
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 3:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Missouri River, North Dakota
    • Sex: Chick
    • Banding Year: 2015
    • Site Captured: Western Sand & Gravel Mine
    • Site Type: Sand & Gravel Mine

    Piping Plover 4:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Plains, Nebraska
    • Sex: Male
    • Banding Year: 2010
    • Site Captured: Lake Superior
    • Site Type: Sandbar
  • Quiz 3 of 4

    banded piping plover

    Piping Plover 1:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Lakes, Wisconsin
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2011
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 2:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Bahamas
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2011
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 3:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Lakes, Wisconsin
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2010
    • Site Captured: Lake Superior
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 4:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Plains, Nebraska
    • Sex: Male
    • Banding Year: 2010
    • Site Captured: Lake Superior
    • Site Type: Sandbar
  • Quiz 4 of 4

    Your partner has spotted a bird through her binoculars and shouted out the color bands on the legs. Here's what you wrote down quickly.

    Upper right leg: Light blue flag
    Lower right leg: Green over red
    Lower left leg: Gray over gray

    Which bird could this be? Hint: draw a pair of legs and label them with the correct bands to help figure out which Plover has been spotted. Then choose the correct answer on the right.

    Piping Plover 1:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Lakes, Wisconsin
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2011
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 2:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Plains Nebraska
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2010
    • Site Captured: Lakeshore Retreat
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 3:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Lakes, Wisconsin
    • Sex: Female
    • Banding Year: 2010
    • Site Captured: Lake Superior
    • Site Type: Housing Development

    Piping Plover 4:

    • USGS Tag#: unknown
    • Banding Region: Great Plains, Nebraska
    • Sex: Male
    • Banding Year: 2010
    • Site Captured: Lake Superior
    • Site Type: Sandbar

Final Video