A proposal for a new bird band exchange format

After working on the Kea Database and some other work in the sphere of New Zealand bird banding, it became apparent to me that a standardised format for storing band information would be a useful tool in enabling the simpler exchange and visualisation of bands.

Banding schemes have evolved over time, and differ depending on the species, time-period—or simply whatever bands the banders happened to have at the time of banding.

The New Zealand Bird Band Text Exchange Format (NZBBTEF) is a working proposal to standardise how this information is captured in an attempt to help improve consistency between the various ways different bird-related research projects store and report band information. It is intended to be accompanied by tests and simple online tools that help visualise and validate text strings.

An graphic of kea legs showing three bands An example of a banded kea with its bands in valid NZBBTEF formats

It is intended that this format is based on what is already common practice for banding in New Zealand, to make the standardisation as simple as possible—for example, it is possible to use human names for colours, or colour codes as defined by the New Zealand National Bird Banding Scheme. I am by no means an expert, but I am trying to use my knowledge as a conservationist with a technical and science background to craft something usable. By all means, feedback is necessary and appreciated.

The working proposal is online at: https://gist.github.com/georgemoon/0c06e7ad0004ae9c47dd4ac0e1b425d5

It is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.