Banded Birds

What to do if you spot a banded bird.

Most avid birders come across a banded bird sooner or later, but might not know how important it is to report what they see. Banded bird sighting reports are vitally important to the conservation and long-term survival of many of our most imperiled bird species, and amateur bird watchers play a critical role!

Here are some examples:

  • Reporting banded birds helps biologists to understand migratory patterns, territory size, range, habitat use, mortality, longevity, and a number of other factors critical to a specie’s survival.
  • Reporting banded chicks, adults, and migratory shorebirds helps pinpoint beaches, causeways, and islands that are important feeding and resting areas for birds prior to or during migration so that we can ensure those special places are protected from disturbance.
  • Reporting banded chicks and adults at beach-nesting and gravel rooftop-nesting sites helps assess "nest site fidelity" -the innate habit of returning to the same location year after year to nest. Site fidelity differs among shorebird and seabird species. For some species, a catastrophic disturbance one year can cause the birds to search for a new nesting location that may be safer than the previous site
  • The period between hatching and a chick’s first flight, when they can fly to avoid danger, is critical to their survival. Observing banded chicks may help to pinpoint factors in preventing them from reaching this critical stage.

If you see a banded bird:

  1. Note the date, time, and location (with GPS if possible)
  2. Note the species
  3. Note which legs or legs have bands
  4. Note the color and order of bands –upper or lower and left or right leg. If the band or flag has an alphanumeric code, try to note the code
  5. Take a picture! Digital cameras work great through scopes and sometimes even binoculars.

How to report a banded Black Skimmer:

Band Color State How to Report      
Orange MA Email: Carolyn Mostello
Yellow NY Email: R Longiaru, K Parkins
Blue NJ, or BBL, or tag Kashi Davis on Facebook
White VA Email: VTplover, or BBL
Black NC BBL or email: Lindsay Addison
Green FL Post to the Florida Banded Bird Resightings page on Facebook
Red TX, MS, and others

*Table compiled by Elizabeth Forys, Ph.D.

How to report a banded bird other than Black Skimmer:


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