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Banded Black Skimmers
photo by James R. Gallagher
As many of you are aware, there are lots of banded Black Skimmers floating around California, and we are asking for help in tracking the movements of young birds banded at the Salton Sea this year (2010).
In September 2010, Kathy Molina and crew banded 75 pre-fledged Black Skimmers at the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge headquarters ponds; most of those young (birds) were still at the colony site in mid-October, but by now (Nov.), they have mostly dispersed away from the Sea. On 7 November, two of them were sighted at an estuary south of Bahia Kino in Sonora, Mexico.
In past years, various proportions of the cohort of young skimmers from the Salton Sea have moved either south into Mexico (Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California) or west by unknown route(s) to the coast of California. The odd bird has even moved east to Arizona (once) and SW New Mexico (once).
(The) 2010 Salton Sea birds were banded with TWO BRIGHT BLUE BANDS on the LEFT LEG, and a silver USGS numbered band on the RIGHT LEG. These birds should retain obvious brownish plumage until late into the winter, so (the) 2010-fledged birds should be easy to pick out in a skimmer flock.
If you examine skimmer flocks, you will undoubtedly see other banded birds. We are not interested in reports of USGS metal bands unless you can read most or all of the number (a 3 to 4 digit prefix ending in the number "4", then a 5-digit suffix). Some of the plastic alphanumeric bands placed on skimmers years ago have survived the elements, so if you see a tall plastic band with a letter and two numbers, please report the band color, which leg that band was on, and the alphanumeric combination. You might also encounter bird with other colored bands (black, pale blue, pale green, white, red, pink) and we would be interested in hearing about those birds (also).
Daytime roosting skimmer flocks on beaches often allow close approach, and band numbers can often be read with a telescope (and patience).
If you find the blue-banded birds mentioned above, or are able to get specific color band combination or band number information on other birds, please send the following information to Kathy at:
  exact locality
  approximate number of skimmers in the flock
  approximate number or proportion of juveniles in the flock
  exact band information
  (photos are often helpful as well)
Thanks for your help.


Sea & Sage Audubon Society
PO Box 5447 • Irvine, CA 92616 • 949-261-7963