Bird Banding Laboratory

Science Center Objects

The Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) is an integrated scientific program established in 1920 supporting the collection, archiving, management and dissemination of information from banded and marked birds in North America.  This information is used to monitor the status and trends of resident and migratory bird populations. Because birds are good indicators of the health of the environment, the status and trends of bird populations are critical for identifying and understanding many ecological issues and for developing effective science, management and conservation practices.

The BBL, since 1923 and in collaboration with the Bird Banding Office (BBO) of the Canadian Wildlife Service, administer the North American Bird Banding Program (NABBP), which manages more than 77 million archived banding records and more than 5 million records of encounters. In addition, each year approximately 1 million bands are shipped from the BBL to banders in the United States and Canada, and nearly 100,000 band encounter reports are submitted into the BBL systems. 

Click here for more information about BBL operations and banding during the novel coronavirus pandemic


Illustration of a black-bellied whistling duck wearing a federal leg band standing, title text surrounds image in circle

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck: banded with federal leg band.  (Credit: Ikumi Kayama, MA, Studio Kayama LLC. Limited Use by USGS only)


The U.S. Geological Survey is celebrating 100 years of the Bird Banding Laboratory.

The lab will be doing several events to celebrate the history and accomplishments of our first 100 years. To find out more about the centennial and upcoming events see below:

Please check back here for event updates and resources.







BBL Federal Permit

BBL Federal Permit

(Public domain.)


Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit

Following the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and its associated Federal regulations (16 U.S.C. 703-712), a Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit is required to conduct all bird banding and/or marking activities.


BBL Bander Portal

Access to Bander Portal (Public domain.)






Bander Portal

If you already have a federal permit or sub-permit to band birds, sign in to the new Bander Portal to do the following:

  • View and update your contact information
  • View your list of subpermittees, band inventory and banding locations
  • Order bands from BBL, request bands transfer and confirm bands as received
  • Define access to menu options for your subpermitees
  • View tables of valid codes for various banding data fields (e.g. age, sex, etc.) and recommended band sizes by species
  • Download your inventory

In the future, data will be submitted through the bander portal, but in the meantime use Bandit (The Information Manager for Banding Operations) to submit data.

Canada Goose, Branta canadensis

Canada Goose with a Neck Collar and Federal Band (Courtesy: David Kacynski)







Reporting a bird with a federal band or auxillary marker










Frederick Lincoln at desk

Fredrick C. Lincoln was an accomplished bird biologist and early bird bander (Public domain.)







Learn more about the BBL:



Bird Banding Laboratory
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

12100 Beech Forest Road
Laurel, MD 20708




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