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 released to the wild within the United States.

Banders are a select group. Master Banders include federal and state agencies, university researchers, bird observatories, and private individuals. Waterfowl are banded only by federal and state agencies. Private individuals are not normally allowed to band waterfowl as the banding information is used to set harvest regulations.

Persons who want to apply for a banding permit must be able to show that they are qualified to safely trap, handle, and band the birds. The applicant is responsible for acquiring all training; none is provided by the Bird Banding Laboratory.  Some potential banders learn in an apprenticeship program, working one-on-one with an active bander. Others learn by visiting bird observatories or banding groups. Still others take courses in banding and handling birds. 

General Permit Information with application form and instructions.

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How can I get bird banding and encounter data from the Bird Banding Laboratory?

Banding and encounter data are available for research purposes. Individual banding data records exist electronically starting in 1960. Pre-1960 banding data are available only for birds that have been encountered. Individual encounter data are available from 1913. To make a data request go to the Banding and Encounter Data page .

What functions are available in the Bander Portal for bird banders?

Use the Bander Portal to: View and update your contact information, List subpermittees, band inventory, and locations associated with your permit, Order bands and confirm bands as received, Request transferral of bands TO your permit or FROM your permit to another permit, Define which menu options subpermitees have permission to access, View...

I have a federal permit to band birds. How do I order bands?

If you already have a federal permit or sub permit to band birds, sign in to the Bander Portal to order bands and/or confirm bands as received.

How do I submit bird banding and/or bird recapture data?

Bird banding and band recapture data from banding activities must be submitted to the Bird Banding Laboratory using Bandit, The Information Manager for Banding Operations . Bandit is desktop software (not a website) that must be downloaded to your computer. The software is available for both PCs and Macs.

How do I renew or modify my existing federal bird banding permit?

To renew or make changes to existing bird banding permits, use the links below: ● Request a sub-permit ● Change in the responsible individual for a Master Station Banding Permit ● Permit inactivation ● Permit reactivation ● Renew your permit ● Request color and auxiliary marking permission Additional information is on the General Permit...

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 .

How do I get a certificate of appreciation after reporting a banded bird?

Certificates of appreciation are given to people who have found birds with leg bands or color markers and reported them to the Bird Banding Laboratory through their " Report a bird with a federal band or color marker " website. Certificates are automatically generated when you report a bird and can be downloaded immediately after your report is...

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...
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Banding a Least Common Tern Chick
August 25, 2016

Banding a Least Common Tern Chick

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

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
...
A color banded plover in the hand of a scientist.
February 18, 2003

A color banded plover in the hand of a scientist.

A color banded plover in the hand of a scientist. 

Photo of Bird Bands in a Variety of Sizes and Types

Bird Bands in a Variety of Sizes and Types

Photo of Bird Bands in a Variety of Sizes and Types