Bird Banding Identification

Bird Banding Identification
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, bird banding is a universal technique used to study the movement, survival and behavior of birds. Banding is an important conservation tool. Both individuals and organizations may apply for a permit to band. The U.S. Geological Survey's Bird Banding Laboratory handles permits and issues bands, and also keeps track of data supplied by those who band.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Banding Varieties

Step 1
The Bird Banding Lab inscribes its bands with its toll-free reporting number and address and a unique number. Inscriptions you may find include the older version AVISE BIRD BAND WASH DC or the newer CALL 1-800-327 BAND and WRITE BIRD BAND LAUREL MD 20708 USA, plus eight or nine numbers.
Step 2
Other bands with an agency listed are likely state or provincial. They have a letter and five or six numbers, or consist solely of numbers. Report them to the agency listed or your local DNR.
Step 3
Private bands may be reported to the address on the band. Foreign bands may be returned to the BBL for processing.
Step 4
Imported caged birds are banded during processing into the country. Metal bands with initials, a two-digit year and a unique number are from regional clubs, which may provide bands to members.

Federal Bands

Step 1
Lock-on bands are used for hawks or owls. Rivet bands are more appropriate for eagles. These bands are made to keep birds with powerful bills from removing the bands. They are created from soft aluminum.
Step 2
Butt-end bands are the most common bands used. They are created from stainless steel and hard metals, and made for long-term use in harsh and saltwater environments or on birds which may live longer than the functional span of the band.
Step 3
Bands come in 23 standard sizes, with five sized to fit all types of birds. Certain other federal bands are specialized. These are metal, unusually small or oddly shaped, and bear a letter and five numbers. They should be reported to the BBL.
Step 4
If you find a banded bird and want to report it, the BBL North American Bird Banding Program has a link on its website (see References) which allows you to communicate the type of bird found, its location, information on the bird and band condition, and your personal information.

The site will tell you when and where the bird was banded and a little about the bird itself in exchange for your information.
Step 5
You may even send bands with numbers that have worn away completely to the BBL. They can retrieve information through etching: Bands are placed in an acid bath, and variance in the metal where the band went through the stamping process causes the acid to react differently, rendering the numbers visible.

Other Banding

Step 1
Neck collars, nasal markers, plastic leg bands and dye markers are less common forms of banding and marking. Tail streamers mark a tail feather and are used to track migration.

These methods are designed to render a bird more visible to make monitoring at a distance possible. These forms of banding require extensive authorization for use, and they should not be reported.
Step 2
Goose collars are made of plastic or vinyl and may have three or four characters. Birds with two-character collars carry radio transmitters. Collar markings are coordinated in order to be able to identify each project's birds.
Step 3
Falconry bands are also plastic, encoded with an R (U.S.) or C (Canada) and five or six numbers. Report these to your state Department of Natural Resources.
Step 4
Pigeon bands are plastic or plastic-covered metal and do not need to be reported. Their numbers give an organization code, club code and unique number.

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from Trails.com to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.