Big Bald Banding Station recently received an amazing visit from an ‘old acquaintance.’ A male Slate-colored Junco was re-captured on August 31, 2011, sporting adult plumage and wearing a very worn and faded aluminum leg band. On close inspection at the banding table, the numbers on the faded band were recorded and the data submitted to the US Bird Banding Lab. The data records reveal that the bird was originally banded at Big Bald Banding Station in 2002, on August 31, the very same day of re-capture 9 years later!!! Juncos are short distance migrants, traveling from their breeding grounds in high mountain habitats, to their winter habitat in the milder climates of lower altitude deep south states. This nine-year old bird has survived in part because of the habitat stewardship promoted by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the US Forest Service, which manages the high altitude habitats at Big Bald. Of course, the feeders at winter homes down south and a good deal of luck also enhance survival! The recapture data gathered by Southern Appalachian Raptor Research during the annual monitoring efforts at Big Bald Banding Station provides important information about the health of the bird community in threatened high-altitude habitats such as Big Bald. SARR volunteers hope to see this great-great-great-GREAT grandfather bird again someday, and we look forward to more amazing info that the next recapture might reveal!!
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