General Permit Information
Science Center Objects
A Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit is required by the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) whenever someone wants to place a bird band or any type of marker on a wild bird protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or on a Federally-protected bird that will be released into the wild.
The following provisions within the Federal Code of Regulations apply to the issuance of federal bird banding and marking permits: 50 CFR 10 General Provisions, 50 CFR 13 General Permit Procedures and 50 CFR 21 Migratory Bird Permits. Only official federal bird bands may be placed on federally-protected birds that are released into the wild within the United States.
To minimize the effects of banding birds and the costs of processing banding data, the use of bands and/or markers should be limited to well-designed projects that will improve our understanding of birds. Banders should ensure that the use of bands and/or markers will allow them to address the objectives of their studies. They should carefully select the most appropriate methods to capture, band, and/or mark birds, recognizing that the welfare of the birds should be the most important priority. Another consideration is whether banding birds is necessary for a project or whether temporary markers such as a drop of dye or trimmed feather tips may serve their purposes equally as well. A federal bird banding and marking permit and auxiliary marking authorization is still required for the use of temporary markers.
Federal bird banding and marking permits are issued only to persons 21 years of age or older. There is currently no fee for this permit which is valid for a period up to 3 years. This permit authorizes the capture of wild birds for the purposes of banding and marking and to salvage birds that are found dead or are accidentally killed during normal banding activities. Additionally, these permits can authorize the collection of blood samples, feather samples, and mouth swabs from birds that are also banded and/or marked. Permittees are required to maintain and electronically submit detailed records of all banded birds. Salvaged specimens must be donated to a public, educational, or scientific institution within 6 months of collection.
Activities that cannot be authorized under a permit include holding birds in captivity for any type of scientific study, transporting birds, eggs, nests, or parts thereof, collection of any tissues samples other than blood, feather, and mouth swabs, and performing surgical procedures. These activities will probably require a Migratory Bird Collecting Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The regional USFWS Migratory Birds Office should be contacted to obtain this permit, or visit the permits section of the Ornithological Council.
To apply for a new master banding permit, a completed bird banding permit application form must be submitted to the BBL Permits Office. Please read the instructions for more details about completing this form and the related materials required by the BBL for its review of each application. Providing all of the required information will expedite the processing of each application. Please allow a minimum of 2-3 months for the BBL to process and review each application for a new master banding permit.
- Master banding permit application form and instructions
The applicant must indicate the specific authorizations that are being requested for their new master banding permit. Specific details for each authorization are provided below:
- Species authorizations for birds proposed to be banded and/or marked
- Banding and/or marking of federal endangered or threatened species
- Capture techniques proposed to be used
- States and/or territories where the bander will be working
- Banding authorizations for foreign countries
- Banding rehabilitated birds
- Blood sampling authorizations
- Feather sampling authorizations
- Swab sampling authorizations
- Auxiliary marking authorizations
To make changes to existing permits, go to the links below:
- Request a sub-permit
- Change the responsible individual for a Master Station Banding Permit
- Permit inactivation
- Permit reactivation
- Permit Renewal
- Request additional authorizations
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