Bird Banding Laboratory


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How to Apply and Remove Bands

The proper size of band should be selected for each bird banded. Refer to the Species and Band Size List (Species Number, Alpha Code) for recommended band sizes. The band is placed on the tarsus and, when closed, should be free enough to move up and down without abrasively rubbing either round or elliptical tarsi. Closed butt-end bands, lock-on, and any other closed bands should be opened before being placed on the bird's tarsus.

When placed on the tarsus, the ends of the closed band should meet tightly and squarely. Special banding pliers are needed to close bands tightly. The use of other types of pliers is discouraged because it is too easy to overlap the band. Overlapped bands are difficult to remove without injury to the bird. Care should be taken that the band numbers are not marred in the process of closing the band. Persons banding large birds, such as gulls and geese should place the band "right side up" so that the band number can be read through a telescope. The ends of the band should not be overlapped. The right band size gives a proper fit when it is closed with butt-ends meeting tightly. Lock-on bands can be squeezed shut with the fingers and the flange folded over with a pair of pliers.

As wear on the band will likely occur along the bottom edge where the band number normally would rest, the band may be applied upside down on the bird's foot. This will place the band numbers farther from the wearing edge. TWO METAL BANDS SHOULD NEVER BE PLACED UPON THE SAME FOOT OF A BIRD BECAUSE THE METAL WEARS TO SHARP EDGES AND MAY CUT THE BIRD.

Rivet bands are locked with a 1/8 in. (3.2 mm) diameter aluminum rivet by using a pop-rivet tool, or hand riveter, which the Bird Banding Offices do not furnish. The pop-rivet tool seats the rivet and removes the inside shank of the expander. The rivets are approximately of the same alloy as the bands and fasten the two flanges together very securely. Specific instructions should be provided with the rivet tool.

Removing Bands

Go to Bands and Banding