What to do if you find a banded bird

Only about 1% of banded songbirds are every encountered after their initial banding (one of the reasons that the data recorded during banding is so important). Therefore, if you find a banded bird, reporting the information makes a very valuable contribution.

We don’t have data on pigeons!
Please note: Pigeons are NOT banded by a bander licensed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. These birds usually have a colored plastic band with an alpha-numeric code on it. These birds are privately owned and banded, and there is no centralized database of pigeon bands.  Try checking the American Racing Pigeon Union for instructions on how to read the band and locate the club where the owner of the bird might be found. We have no connection to these organizations and cannot respond to queries about pigeons.

Federal Fish & Wildlife bands are plain aluminum, inscribed with a nine digit number: a 3 or 4 digit prefix, followed by a dash, and 5 additional digits. Carefully write down the number (save the band if you can) and information on when and where you found the bird, in what condition, etc. It’s not necessary for you to identify the species, you’ll be told when you report the number.

If the bird is not a pigeon and you live in southeastern Michigan, try calling RRBO at (313) 583-6373. Chances are good that it was one of our birds if you found it in the area. We can get back to you quickly with information on what species you’ve found, and the date, age, and sex when banded. We’ll also report your finding to the Bird Banding Lab (see below).

You can call the Bird Banding Lab of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center at 1-800-327-BAND. Once the BBL is notified, you will get a certificate when and where your bird was banded, the species, and the age and sex when banded. The bander will be notified when and where the bird was found. If you prefer, you can report the band to the Bird Banding Lab by e-mail at bandreports@patuxent.nbs.gov

You can also fill out the Bird Banding Lab’s electronic band report form on the Internet; you can also report a bird with only an auxillary marker (such as a neck collar on a Canada Goose) even if it does not have a metal band, or you were not able to read the band.

For some interesting stories about recovered banded birds, visit the blog “I Found a Banded Bird.”

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