I found (or killed) a bird with a band or color marker around its leg. What do I do?

Bird band information is an important tool that is used to monitor populations, set hunting regulations, restore endangered species, study effects of environmental contaminants, and address such issues as Avian Influenza, bird hazards at airports, and crop depredations.

The North American Bird Banding Program is jointly administered by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Their respective banding offices use the same bands, reporting forms, and data formats. You can report bird bands to either agency.

To report a bird band to the USGS, please contact the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory by following the instructions on the mobile-friendly USGS Bird Band Reporting website.

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Who can band birds?

Because banding birds requires capturing the birds and handling them before the banding takes place, the banding of birds in the United States is controlled under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and requires a federal banding permit. Some states require a state

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How can I stop birds from repeatedly hitting my windows?

This is a common problem. The bird sees its reflection in the window and thinks another bird is encroaching on his territory. One solution is to put a silhouette of a hawk in the window. That scares them off. Birding and nature stores sell paper cutouts that you can tape to the window.

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Man measuring a little red bird.
2017 (approx.)

Measuring the wing length of a banded Iiwi

Canada Goose with Leg Band and Neck Collar
May 20, 2017

Canada Goose with Leg Band and Neck Collar

Banding a Least Common Tern Chick
August 25, 2016

A member of the field crew holds a recently banded least tern chick, displaying both its metal permanent band and its plastic field readable band.

October 27, 2011

by Susan Haig, Wildlife Ecologist

 

  • Scientists are studying global migratory animal movements throughout their annual cycles to improve conservation efforts
  • Changing climate conditions have accentuated this need, as species movements and their ranges are fluctuating every year
  • Technology being used to study the migratory patterns ranges from leg bands to satellite telemetry and isotopic markers
  • The USGS and the Smithsonian Institution have partnered to form the Migratory Connectivity Project to address this issue
March 31, 2011

New research indicates that birds are listening to the landscape to find their way

By Jon Hagstrum, Research Geophysicist

  • For nearly 40 years, biologists have been unable to agree on how birds find their way over great distances during homing or migrational flights
  • Do birds use their olfactory senses, the Earth's magnetic field, or low-frequency acoustic (infrasonic) signals to navigate by?
  • New findings indicate that birds use infrasonic signals radiated from the land surface for navigational purposes during their journeys
  • Perplexing behavior by birds observed during experimental releases can be readily explained by the influences of topography and atmospheric variations on the propagation of infrasound
Image: Canada Goose Banding
May 31, 2008

As part of an annual statewide waterfowl banding effort, Iowa State Coop student Brad Heller holds a Canada Goose still while Iowa DNR wildlife biologist attaches a leg band to the bird, outside of Clear Lake. The project is aimed at providing information on population parameters, such as survival and harvest rates.

Dan Ruthrauff in a cabin holding a Bar-tailed Godwit shorebird.  The bird has two bands on its left leg.
August 26, 2005

Dan Ruthrauff holding a banded Bar-tailed Godwit near Egigik, Alaska

A color banded plover in the hand of a scientist.
2003 (approx.)

A color banded plover in the hand of a scientist.