Bird Banding Laboratory

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Band Numbering System

The system of numbering in North American Bird Banding has evolved over the years. Any bander or researcher interested in the numbers used on bands manufactured prior to the early 1950s should contact the Bird Banding Offices.

Except for hummingbird bands, the bands now in use carry a unique 8- or 9-digit number that has two parts - a prefix and a 5-digit suffix. The prefix consists of a variable series number and a band-size indicator (the last digit) that is constant for bands of a size group. Hummingbird bands have a single letter for a prefix which is arbitrarily translated to a 4-digit number in our electronic files (plus a 5-digit suffix). X = 7000, T = 8000, Y = 3000, R = 4000, N = 5000, C = 6000, E = 9000, H = 3100, L = 4100, J = 5100, K = 6100, M = 7100, U = 8100, P = 9100.

Old-style bands in sizes 0 through 1A (no longer issued) DO NOT have a band-size indicator in the prefix. Numbers on these bands consist of a 2- or 3-digit prefix with a 5-digit suffix. The numeral "0" is "understood" to be the last digit of the prefix in size 0 and 1 bands with less than a 3-digit prefix. Since June 1970 and beginning with series 1260, a 4-digit prefix (ending in zero) indicates size 0. A 3-digit prefix beginning with series 820 (ending in zero) indicates size 1. The band-size indicator is now included on the band.

The last 2 digits on the FIRST band of each string of 100 are "01". The last 2 digits on the LAST band of each string of 100 are "00". Thus the "hundreds" digit on the last band of each string changes (for example, the first band on a string of 100 bands is 888-88801 and the last band is 888-88900. However, the last band in this prefix will be 888-00000). It is very important to make this distinction so that the first rather than the last band in the series is the first one used.

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