When I learn about cases where information might have been acquired through less invasive means, it’s hard to reconcile the huge, human brands some animals wear for life.
There are some studies you can find online, pointing to the issues some birds face, bearing these tags, as with African Cape Vultures whose movements seemed impaired by patagial markers. The study does reference incorrectly placed markers:
Individuals equipped with patagial tags covered a much smaller area in comparison to the leg band group. They were less likely to take flight and, when doing so, flew at lower ground speed compared to individuals wearing leg bands.
“Although we did not measure the effects of patagial tags on body condition or survival, our results strongly suggest that patagial tags have severe adverse effects on vultures’ flight performance,” says first author Teja Curk, a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior.
One Australian study compared the reduced return rate to breeding areas from wing-tagged versus leg-banded cockatoos. There’s been at least some scientific exploration on whether or not highly visible tags affect a bird’s safely level from predation.
All of that is a long introduction to American White Pelican 02J who I spotted at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, bearing two patagial tags. I felt, again, those mixed feelings in seeing two large, bold, black wing markers on this gorgeous white bird. The young pelican was foraging and behaving normally in the moments I observed him fishing with another white pelican. White pelican 027 is a first-year pelican, banded last year in 2021 before he could fly.