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Bird Banding Pliers Information


A little history about Roger MacDonald

Updated Nov. 9 2010

11:17 pm

Different generations of Roger MacDonald Pliers (left three and below)

Lee Rogers Hummingbird Pliers (far right)

Roger MacDonald in his workshop.  
Photo: L. Pickett

Dear Friends, Family, Co-workers, and My New Bird Banding Friends,

Those of you who know me well, know that I have been blessed by having many wonderful men in my life, but there is only one man that I can honestly call my hero and that is my Dad, Roger MacDonald.

My Dad was a very talented craftsman and he was the happiest when he used his skills to make life better for others. He rebuilt a small camp in Lynnfield, MA and made it into a home for his children and lived there with my Mother for over 50 years. He made a countless number of bookcases, beds, desks,  cabinets, toys and jewelry for his wife, children and grandchildren.

During his almost 30 years of working at the Melrose YMCA he made everything from diving blocks to step dancing steps and contributed greatly during the renovation of building which took place in the 1980's. During his 25 years as a machinist he even made parts that went to the moon with Apollo.

All my life if anything needed fixing we just gave it to Dad and he would take it downstairs to his shop and then, in time, he would bring it back fixed as good as new.  When my Mother became ill in 1999 he tried as hard as he could to build things to make her battle with PSP easier.  I believe that his greatest disappointment was that no matter how hard he tried he could not make her "as good as new".

I think one of his many accomplishments was making tools to be used for banding birds.  When my Mother started banding birds in the early 1960's he developed tools to make the job of putting the bands on the birds' legs easier for the bander and safer for the bird. He turned this into a business which has lasted over 40 years and his tools have been used all over the world.  In addition, during the late 1980's he developed tools used for banding hummingbirds.

I know that you all are wondering where this is leading to, well let me tell you.  Sam from Avinet very kindly put a picture of my Dad and a notice of his passing on the Internet at   Although, my Dad was rather humble I know he would be thrilled. So I ask you to click on this site in tribute to the man who will always be my hero.

Thank you,

Lorraine Wells 

Excerpt from an unknown source

Soon after starting  Avinet in 1987 we contacted Roger MacDonald to find out if he wanted us to handle his pliers sales.  He declined our offer. 

  I do most of Avinetís manufacturing, but for several reasons MB handled making banding pliers from the beginning.  She gave it a good hard try, for a long time with the first vendor, but the project turned into a nightmare so we finally stopped pliers production.  Then (I don't remember how many years since our first contact) Roger called us back and offered to supply pliers to us, but not all the models.  Perhaps the other models were a too big a headache for him to make?  We agreed but, now that were were selling pliers again, MB had to find a another machinist to make the missing models.  Meanwhile she developed a warm and close relationship with Roger, so that part went very well, and while the new (third) supplier was cooperative they encountered one technical problem after another.  Then Roger died in May 2001.  After a time Roger's daughter enlisted Roger's nephew (our fourth supplier,) who is a machinist as well, to continue the MacDonald line of pliers, and hummingbird tools.  Remember, Roger was a retired machinist when he was making pliers.  He had the time and expertise to make small batches by hand; and he did not make much, if any money doing it.  We too did not make money distributing his pliers, and we suffered financially from working on the other models with other machinists.  But because she loved Roger, and as a service to bird banders, MB kept at it.

  Rogerís nephew is a different story. He is very capable machinist with a big machine shop but he has a business to run, and must at least break even.  He gave it good try, but finally decided that he didn't need the headaches and financial losses that were mounting up from making small runs of banding pliers.  After many years of ups and downs, ... mostly very frustrating downs, with sadness, we finally gave up too, and quit making all the pliers.  We will never recover the costs of tooling up to make them. 

  Now, ... plain steel pliers, without band openers would be much easier to make.  But, do you think banders will accept pliers that rust anytime soon?  After what we have been though, we are not keen to suffer another financial beating by investing money in the tooling for a line of new products that might sell at the rate of a few dozen per year. 

Now you know the real deal.