Feather Sampling

Science Center Objects

The Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) can provide authorization to sample feathers collected from migratory birds captured for the purpose of banding and/or marking. If migratory birds are captured for the sole purpose of obtaining feather samples, then a Migratory Bird Collecting Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be required.

To obtain a feather sampling authorization on a Federal Bird Banding and Marking Permit for most species, the following information must be provided to the BBL:

  • Master bander’s name, permit number and all sub-permits requiring this authorization.
  • The species and/or species groups from which the feather samples will be obtained.
  • The number of feathers to be collected and where they will be obtained from the bird.
  • Project proposal(s) to justify these activities.

At this time, the BBL does not normally require special training prior to obtaining a feather sampling authorization. However, if blood feathers will be sampled, then prior training in these techniques will be required before this authorization will be approved.


Sampling Eagle Feathers

The collection of feather samples from any eagle falls under special directives issued by the Department of the Interior and are regulated under the US Eagle Conservation Act. Banders are not permitted to collect any flight feathers or tail feathers from eagles, either the entire feather or portions of these feathers. Feather sampling authorizations for eagles are restricted to body (contour) feathers and these requests must include the number of feathers to be collected and the disposition of these feathers prior to their use in a study. These feathers cannot be transferred to another individual unless they possess a valid Eagle Permit from the USFWS that will allow them to possess these feathers.

Please allow 2 months lead time to process your request.

Information can be emailed to bbl_permits@usgs.gov.



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