Friday, June 11, 2004 Posted: 4:03 PM EDT (2003 GMT)
(CNN) -- Why do scientists use ID bands?
"Whenever you do science it's important to know individuals," said biology professor Dee Boersma of the University of Washington in Seattle. "And that means you have to distinguish one from another, just like we give names to people we have to be able to give names to penguins. And we often do that with bands."
Boersma studies Magellanic penguins, a species found off the coast of Argentina.
"I love it. That's my greatest reward, to go back and see individuals that I have known for 21 years, and to be able to see them and realize they haven't aged and I have," she said. "How do they do that!"
The first record of a metal band being attached to a bird's leg was in 1595. One of Henry IV's banded peregrine falcons was discovered 1350 miles from home.
In Denmark, Christian Mortensen began a system of banding, (or ringing as it is known in Europe) in 1899. He monitored starlings, storks, ducks, and birds of prey.
U.S. bird expert John James Audubon marked some brown and yellow birds known as phoebes in 1803 with silver wire.
The American Bird Banding Association was formed in 1909.