Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
It’s rare that t species of shorebird, was banded in 2003 at Barrow, Alaska, marked with a banding number and colored leg bands that identified it. Colored bands mean the bird can be identified by sight alone. Banding is done in the hope of recapture, which offers a look at the bird’s movements.
The bird was recaptured in April of this year in South Korea, on its wintering territory, before spring migration. Korean biologists wrote to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Barrow, reporting the capture.
This bird had a long history, having been captured or identified by sight several times. An employee of the USFWS sent details of this to the Korean captors. I learned of this from a friend whose grandson worked for the USFWS in Barrow last summer.
The Dunlin was first captured at its nest site at Barrow in April 2003.
It was sighted in July 2004 in the same area.
In June of 2005 the bird was captured at its nest. A radio transmitter was attached to the bird to aid in tracking its movements.
It was seen in June 2006 near its former nest sites.
It was captured at Barrow in July 2007. The transmitter was gone.
The bird was not seen at Barrow in 2008.
In 2009, 2010, and 2011 the bird was seen at its nest.
In 2011, the Dunlin was at least 10 years old.
Over the years it was caught once with a walk-in trap, once in a mist net, and four times with a spring-loaded net. Blood was taken from it each time for chemical analysis. A fecal sample was taken for gut micro biota study. Information collected contributed to two PhD projects and other studies. Its blood and feather samples are preserved for possible future use. Locations of its nests were recorded for habitat study.
Weighed with each capture, it varied from 1.6 to 2 ounces over the years.
The bird mated and nested five times at Barrow. The pair of birds hatched young in five of six years. The male nested with the same female in 2003 and 2005, and with a second female in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The second pair used the same nest bowl in 2009 and 2011.
Six people from the U.S., two from Taiwan, two from South Korea, and one person each collected information on this Dunlin from Columbia and Hong Kong.
Dunlins have a mean life span of eight years for males and four years for females. They are known to live as long as 24 years.
This Dunlin was photographed near Bethel, Alaska in June 2007.
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