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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the ethics and responsibilities of bird banders?

2. Who can band birds?

3. Does banding hurt birds?

4. How many birds are banded?

What are the ethics and responsibilities of bird banders? From the USGS which regulates banding in the US.

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 apply their expertise and thoughtfulness towards the health and well- being of the birds they are handling.

The Bander's Code of Ethics applies to every aspect of bird banding. This code was developed by the North American Banding Council and summarizes the most important responsibilities of every bird bander. For a detailed list of rules and responsibilities, see the Bander’s code of ethics.

Who can band birds?

From USGS: "Because banding requires capturing the birds and handling them, 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 (registered and disbursed by the USGS Bird Banding Lab) can be legally placed on wild birds within the United States. Banders are a select group. Master Banders include federal & state agencies, university researchers, bird observatories, & private naturalists. Waterfowl are banded only by federal & state agencies as the data are 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 capture, handle, & band wild 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 & handling birds." From WBBA: see our Opportunities page for ways to get involved in bird banding.

Does banding hurt birds?

​From USGS: "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."

From WBBA: Banding is a safe procedure for wild birds when done by properly trained banders. Inevitably, capture and processing is "unnatural" and therefore will induce some degree of stress in a wild animal. However, all birds are closely monitored for excessive signs of stress.

How many birds are banded?

​From USGS: "As of May 23, 2022 and since 1960*, the BBL has received over 64 million banding records. Since the inception of the North American Bird Banding Program, the BBL has received over 4 million encounter records. On average, over the past decade, the BBL received 1.2 million banding and 87,000 encounter records per year. You can retrieve summaries of bandings and encounters from the USGS here.

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