Turns out that the little banded bird at my feeder last week was a Harris Sparrow. It breeds in Canada and migrates in the winter down to Texas and Louisiana. It was named for Edward Harris, a companion of John James Audubon on his western explorations in 1843. The Harris feeds on the ground and likes weed seeds, flower buds, blossoms, small fruits, berries, insects, spiders, and snails.
Unfortunately I was unable to read the band on this little guy. I have since learned that if I had been able to read it I could report the sighting to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory.
The banding of birds in the United States is controlled under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and requires a federal banding permit, and in some states an additional state permit. That is understandable since the birds have to actually be captured in order to band them. Only an official federal band may be placed on a bird.
Bird banding is done in order to collect data for research and management projects. According to Patuxent “Individual identification of birds makes possible studies of dispersal and migration, behavior and social structure, life-span and survival rate, reproductive success and population growth. The first record of a metal band attached to a bird's leg was about 1595 by Henry IV. The first records of banding in North America are those of John James Audubon, the famous American naturalist and painter. In 1803 he tied silver cords to the legs of a brood of phoebes near Philadelphia and was able to identify two of the nestlings when they returned to the neighborhood the following year.”
My friend Jan informed me that there will be a bird banding demonstration by Dr. Wood at the Arbuckle Simpson Nature Festival. The festival will be the last Friday and Saturday in April. There will also be a free presentation by the Sutton Avian Research Center.
Always good to start the day with a little bit of new information.