What is the North American Breeding Bird Survey?

The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a cooperative effort between the USGS and the Canadian Wildlife Service to monitor the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Following a rigorous protocol, BBS data are collected by thousands of dedicated participants along thousands of randomly established roadside routes throughout the continent. Professional BBS coordinators and data managers work closely with researchers and statisticians to compile and deliver these population data and population trend analyses on more than 400 bird species, for use by conservation managers, scientists, and the general public.

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How do I obtain a federal bird banding permit?

A Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit is required whenever someone wants to place a bird band or any type of marker on a wild bird that is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or on a federally-protected bird that will be released into the wild. To obtain a permit, visit the General Permit Information webpage of the Bird Banding...

What are the ethics and responsibilities of Bird Banders?

Bird banding has long been recognized as an important research tool that has substantially improved our understanding of many aspects of avian biology and provided critical information for the management and conservation of bird populations. It is normally safe when proper techniques and equipment are carefully employed by trained banders who...

Does banding hurt birds?

No, banding does not hurt birds. When proper techniques and equipment are carefully employed, it’s a safe procedure for birds. Trained banders, who apply their expertise and thoughtfulness towards the health and well-being of the birds, follow strict procedures based on the Bander’s ethic code .

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 permit as well. Only official federal bands can be legally placed on birds that are...
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Date published: April 10, 2020

Bird Banding Laboratory in the Media: The Wildlife Society

The Bird Banding Lab’s biologists and songbird banding station were featured in a multimedia online article by The Wildlife Society.

Date published: April 10, 2020

Associations of Breeding-Bird Abundance with Climate Vary Among Species and Trait-Based Groups in Southern California

A new study funded by the Southwest CASC draws on a multi-decadal bird survey dataset to examine the relationship between the abundance of breeding-birds and variations in temperature and precipitation in southern California.  

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Millions of landbirds migrate through the Gulf of Mexico
April 8, 2016

Millions of landbirds migrate through the Gulf of Mexico

Millions of landbirds migrate through the Gulf of Mexico

November 17, 2015

PubTalk 11/2015 — Waterbirds in a Changing Landscape

Evaluating Avian Response to the West Coast's Largest Tidal Marsh Restoration Project

by Susan De La Cruz, USGS Research Wildlife Biologist

  • The urbanized San Francisco Bay is a critical wintering and stop-over area for more than a million migratory annually that rely on a mosaic of Bay habitats, including former salt ponds.
Songbird surveys in the Oregon Coast Range
May 29, 2015

Songbird surveys in McDonald Dunn forest

Joan Hagar and Amy Comstock assess the long-term ecological value and characteristics of snags created for wildlife

Biologist looking through binoculars on the tundra of the Seward Peninsula, Alaska
June 13, 2014

Skyler Vold conducts a bird survey on the Seward Peninsula

USGS biologist Skyler Vold conducts a bird survey on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula

October 27, 2011

PubTalk 10/2011 — Migratory Connectivity in a Changing Climate

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
March 31, 2011

PubTalk 3/2011 — Unraveling the Mystery of Avian Navigation

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
video thumbnail: Radar is for the Birds
March 11, 2009

Radar is for the Birds

Doppler radar can be used for more than predicting the weather—it can be used to record migrating birds!

Image: Conducting a Breeding Bird Survey

Conducting a Breeding Bird Survey

Wildlife Biologist Bruce Hanson conducting a breeding bird survey.

Attribution: Ecosystems
May 22, 2018

On the Road Again for a Bird Survey that Counts

Ziolkowski, D. J., Jr., K. L. Pardieck, and J. R. Sauer.  2010.  On the road again for a bird survey that counts.  Birding 42(4):32-40.