New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

Marked/Banded Birds Posted 9/2/04

House Finch

These is not a project of NYSOA. This information is provided for birders who may encounter marked birds.

Researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are investigating disease dynamics in House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) and we need your help by monitoring your bird feeders for color-banded finches. Since 2000, an intensive banding effort has been underway in Ithaca, New York and over 2000 House Finches have been color-banded. Reporting your sightings of these birds will allow estimation of survival and rates of House Finch movement from the Ithaca study area; factors key to understanding the geographic spread of mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, also known as House Finch eye disease.

There are four bands placed on the legs of our captured House Finches. Band combinations are ‘read’ in a specific sequence from the bird’s point of view. The first band position is the top band on the bird’s left leg; the second band position is the bottom band on the left leg. The third band position is the top band on the bird’s right leg, followed by the bottom band on the right leg. There are 11 color bands (which include an aluminum – silver band) including pink, purple, dark blue, light blue, orange, red, yellow, white, silver, and two bi-colored bands, yellow/red, and dark blue/red. In some cases birds may appear to have more than 3 color bands; these birds have the bi-colored bands attached.

Along with the color-band combination, please record the date, time of day, finch gender, and whether you see signs of conjunctivitis in its eye(s). For more details (including photographs) about identifying diseased finches and ‘reading’ color-bands, please see our web page. If you observe the same color-banded bird on another day, please report these repeat observations.

Please report your observations to Chris Jennelle by email, phone, or postal mail:


(607) 255-3191
Department of Natural Resources
Fernow Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Thank you for your help. Every observation we receive gives us a better understanding of House Finch movement and the potential impacts of conjunctivitis on finch populations.

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