Last month, Bryce caught this stunning dark bird just north of Lawrence, Kansas and discovered that it was already banded. After reporting the band and asking around, he learned that the individual had been captured and banded near Grand Prairie, Alberta in May 2015 by Sylvain Bourdages, an active raptor bander and friend of the project. Even more, Sylvain happened to take photos of the bird that he willingly shared. This provides an excellent comparison between juvenile and adult plumage, as well as a known age for this bird. When it was banded in May 2015, it was still in its first cycle (Juvenal) plumage, despite that it had started its second prebasic molt. Thus, this bird can now be aged as an eighth cycle. From the molt limits in the primaries in the photos above, we can estimate its age as after fourth-cycle, a pattern that is not often seen and generally is assumed to suggest a rather advanced age bird. It is then a valued insight to see this pattern on a bird that we know is in its eighth cycle.
This bird that we now call Ben is outfitted with a GSM transmitter, and we will provide updates when we have a nesting location, and eventually its full cycle migratory path. Another benefit of this recapture event is to contrast the information we gain from the banding effort against the information we gain from the transmitter effort.
Thanks to Sylvain Bourdages for all of his efforts to capture and band migrants in his region of Canada, and for the wisdom to photograph every bird he gets in hand. Because of his efforts and those of folks like him, this will likely be the first of many of these types of recoveries for our research program.