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E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

ACTIVITY: Laysan Ducks #1 -- Bands

photo by Kittipong Janthasang

Here's a beautiful picture of a Laysan Duck.  This bird is "considered the rarest native waterfowl in the United States" according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  In fact, it's the rarest duck in the entire Northern Hemisphere of planet Earth!

Because it's so rare, wildlife scientists on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge are studying the survival of Anas laysanensis very carefully.  In order to do that, the scientists put bands on some of the Ducks. 

Bands are little rings of metal or plastic.  Each band has a different number, letter or symbol, so if you see the band and its text, you know which Duck you're looking at.  The metal bands are longer lasting, but the numbers on them are very small and hard to read.  The auxiliary ("extra") bands are plastic, and they are brighter with bigger text.  These "aux" bands are easier to read by wildlife scientists when they are doing observations of birds outdoors.

Here is a clothes hanger with some plastic aux bands used on Midway Atoll Wildlife Refuge to identify Laysan Ducks (nicknamed LADU.)  There are two kinds of these plastic bands: temporary and permanent.  The temporary bands are used for short term studies; they are the ones with no text.  We won't be looking at any more of them.  The permanent aux bands with text are the ones along the bottom of the hanger.

Here is the code for the band colors and text color for the permanent bands:

Color of Band----------Color of Text----------Code
white--------------------mint green------------WM

Here are the general rules for writing band codes:

1st step =
Write the code for the BAND COLOR.

2nd step =
Write the code for the TEXT COLOR...but *only* for the bands that are colored black, blue, or white -- because they are the only band colors that have 2 color choices for their text.  And notice that you only write a code for the second-choice text color!  (This is confusing, but you'll catch on!)

3rd step =
Write the TEXT that's on the band.  Here are some pointers for writing the text:
  • The text can be a number, letter or symbol...or sometimes two items together. 
  • If there's both a letter and a number or symbol, the letter goes first. 
  • Sometimes the symbol is a stripe, or what's called a "groove."  Grooves are coded in a special way.  You start by writing the code for the color for the band; then you write a slanting line like this /; then you write the number and color of the grooves.  The code for 1 groove is G, and for 2 grooves it's 2G.  So, a yellow band with 1 black groove would be Y/BKG; a green band with 2 white grooves is coded as GN/2WG
Now let's look at the picture on the left, and do the codes together, beginning with band #1--
1. The band is black, so that's BK.  The text is white, the first-choice text color, so we don't write anything for the text color.  The symbol is the capital-letter H.  So the code for this band is BKH.

2. The band is orange, so that's capital-letter O.  Since there's only a first-choice text color with orange bands, we don't write anything for the text color.  The symbol is the plus sign.  So the code for this band is O+.

3. The band is blue, so that's capital-letter B.  Since the text is in white, the first-choice color that goes with blue bands, we don't write the text color.  The symbol is the number eight.  So this band's code is B8.

4.  The band is blue = B.  There are two white grooves, and grooves have their own system; re-read the 3rd bullet above.  Sooooo, the code for this band is B/2WG. 

Are you getting the hang of it?!  Here are the answers to the rest of the picture:

5.  BY#                                                       13. Y/BKG
6. WY                                                         14. OH
7. GNP                                                        15. YJ
8. GY/BKG                                                 16. GNM
9. YO                                                          17. same as #13 = Y/BKG
10. GYR                                                     18. WW>
11. Al (for aluminum, a metal band)           19. GNX9 (See the 2nd bullet above.)
12. GYK                                                     20. BKYP                                                         

Try and learn the code.  Make some flash cards and try testing yourself.  Then write numbers 21 to 39 on a paper, and write the code for each band in the picture on the right.  When you think you've decoded all the LADU bands as best you can, check the July 8 Answers for "ACTIVITY: Laysan Ducks #1 -- Bands."  It's hard to see some of the bands, but have fun trying, and good luck!