Green-tailed Towhee Banding Mystery

Bird-wise we got totally nooged at Carpenter today. The traps were birdless, although there was some excitement over a Townsend's Solitaire that was found on the trail. We went to go look for it, but did not find it. Although, I was rewarded with a view of a gorgeous gully (above) that I've never noticed at Carpenter. I tend to hang at the banding station and today made a mental note to take a walk on the trails more often.

Fortunately, we have a very sweet banding mystery to chew on. We've had a rare bird show up in Mountain Lake in Cottonwood County--a green-tailed towhee (a western species not typically found in Minnesota). The photo above was taken by Dave Cahlander and if you look at the leg, you can see that the towhee is banded. Dave is one heck of a photog, and he even tried to photograph the band! No one in Minnesota is claiming to have banded the towhee, so where did it come from? Dave said, "It looks like the numbers are 8051 ?8299, where I can't read the ? number."

He submitted the digits and photos to the BBL and here is a response from Danny Bystrak,
Wildlife Biologist at BBL:

"... It is one of the more fascinating reports I've ever seen here, but so far, I have not made any progress in finding the bander. The problem is that, assuming the 8051 is correct (which it seems to be) and the ?8299 is correct (which it also seems to be), all the possible numbers for the ? are accounted for except two. One of the two was issued to a bander in S.D. who has never banded a Green-tailed Towhee, and the other was issued to a bander in Canada. If it was banded in Canada, the banding record is as far out of range as the sighting!

I will check with the Canadian Banding Office to see who it was issued to, but it is starting to look like maybe the above numbers may not be correct. "

More pictures would be great, if there's any chance we could get that missing number in the picture. "

Where did this bird come from? Anyone out there reading this in Canada banded a green-tailed towhee? I love a good banding mystery!

**There's been an update to the towhee and we now know where it was banded. Check the blog entry for January 10, 2007.