About Federal Bird Bands

Science Center Objects

There are three common types of bands used on wild birds in North America: (1) standard butt-end bands, (2) lock-on bands used on hawks and owls, (3) rivet bands used on eagles.

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Photo of Bird Bands in a Variety of Sizes and Types

(Public domain.)









1. Butt-end Bands

The most common type of band used in North America is the butt-end band. This band is a round band with two edges that butt evenly together when closed correctly. Butt-end bands are supplied by the BBL to licensed US banders and by the Canadian Bird Banding Office to licensed Canadian banders free of charge.

Bird Bands

Butt-end Bands (Public domain.)

2. Lock-on Bands

Lock-on bands are specifically designed to stop birds with strong bills like hawks and owls from opening or damaging the band with their strong bill. The lock-on band is used on all medium to large birds of prey other than eagles. The band is like a normal butt-end band with two unequal flanges of metal. The longer flange is folded over the shorter flange, effectively "locking" the band in place. The band is made of relatively soft aluminum and can be removed by the bander, but not by the bird.

Lock-on Bird Band

Lock-on Band (Public domain.)












3. Rivet Bands

Rivet bands are made of harder metal than the lock-on band (but not stainless steel) and are used on eagles. The band has two short flanges of metal that project out from the seam where the two ends of the band meet. These flanges are side by side when the band is closed with a hole for a rivet. The band is riveted in place.

Rivet Bird Band

Rivet Band (Public domain.)












Band Sizes

Each type of band is made in many different sizes so that every bird has a suitable size band available for use by banders. To date, we have 25 standard size bands and 5 specially sized bands made to accommodate the smallest hummingbird to the large Trumpeter Swan.

Hummingbird Bird Band

Hummingbird Band (Public domain.)












Bands provided by the BBL have the inscription WWW.REPORTBAND.GOV followed by a unique 8 or 9 digit number. You may find older bird bands with inscriptions used previously such as WRITE BIRD BAND LAUREL MD 20708 USA or AVISE BIRD BAND WASH DC. Also, some bands may have inscriptions inside the band.

You can report any of these bands at www.reportband.gov.

If your band is worn out and you cannot read the numbers, the BBL can have the numbers determined using etching. Learn more about etching bands.

If the band you are trying to report does not look like the examples above, please go to identifying unusual bands.


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