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Resources Bands Pic

Banded Birds

Leg banding is an important method used in avian research to track the movement and survival of individual birds. Many projects use combinations of color bands, flags, and/or bands with alpha-numeric codes to allow individuals to be distinguished from a distance with binoculars.

Each resight (i.e. observation of a banded bird) is extremely important since it provides scientists with a time and location for that specific bird. These sightings allow scientists to better understand movement patterns related to migration, nesting, wintering, foraging, etc.

Resources Banding


Please report banded birds to their researchers. Here is a directory, by species:

American Oystercatcher: The AMOY Working Group coordinates a large-scale banding and re-sighting effort among several states along the eastern seaboard. You can contribute your observations of banded oystercatchers on their website: American Oystercatcher Banding.

Black Skimmer: Skimmers have been banded in Florida with field-readable green tags with a letter and two numbers in white (example: A01). Please submit the data here or email forysea@eckerd.edu.

Great Black-backed Gull: If you find these gulls with a green wing-tag and leg band, or a green alpha-numeric leg band, please report sightings to rronconi@yahoo.com.

Herring Gull: If you find these gulls with a pink wing-tag and leg band, please report sightings to rronconi@yahoo.com.

Least Tern: In Florida, Least Terns have been banded from roof-top colonies in the Tampa Bay area through a joint Audubon Florida - Eckerd College Project. If you find a banded Least Tern, please send an email to Beth Forys (forysea@eckerd.edu).  

Piping Plover: Banded Piping Plovers are commonly found in Florida. Note that some projects use bands that are bicolored. Check out the banding schemes and locations at http://www.fws.gov/charleston/pdf/PIPL/pipl_band_id.pdf. Please email your observations to piping.plover@usace.army.mil.

Red Knot: To report Red Knot resights, go to Banded Birds. This site also collects resights of Semipalmated Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, and many other shorebird species.

Snowy Plover: Most banded Snowy Plovers in Florida come from research projects in Florida, so in coordination with the Florida Snowy Plover Working Group, we have developed an online reporting tool on the FSA website. Go here to enter your observations.

Wilson's Plover: There are several projects throughout the Southeastern United States color-banding Wilson's Plovers. Please report band resights to WIPL.banded@gmail.com.

Other shorebirds and seabirds: If you see a banded shorebird or seabird whose species is not listed above, please report it to Banded Birds.

Other bird species: If you see bands on wading birds and other birds not listed here, please report them to the National Banding Lab.


Found a dead bird?

Please report it to FWC's Wild Bird Mortality Database.


Rehabilitated Birds- Deep Horizon Oil Spill

Request for observations from Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center

With large numbers of birds being rescued, treated, and relocated in the Gulf States as a result of the BP oil spill, people seeing banded birds are asked to report sightings. As part of this unprecedented unified response to the BP oil spill, we are asking the public to help report oiled wildlife, as well. A large percentage of captured birds are being successfully treated and released back into the wild.  These birds are being fitted with leg bands that provide identifying information to assist Federal scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and other organizations in studying these birds after release.

Scientific information being collected from this oil spill will expand the scope of knowledge that bird researchers and other scientists will have in the future to help ensure the health of migratory birds.  Among other information, scientists will learn the extent to which released birds return to their original habitat.

Birds are released only after wildlife specialists determine they are sufficiently prepared and exhibit natural behavior including waterproofing, self-feeding, normal blood values, and are free of injuries or disease. They are released in appropriate habitats where human disturbance is minimal. While the birds are often released in the Gulf area, they are released as far as possible from areas affected by the BP oil spill. Choosing release sites is complicated; biologists want to make sure that birds are released into the same populations from which they came, but with as little risk of getting re-exposed to oil as possible.

All birds released from rehabilitation are banded for identification purposes.  Ultimately, scientists use information gleaned from reports of banded birds to help answer a host of questions.  Among those questions are:  How long do formerly oiled birds survive?  Where do the birds travel?  Do immature birds select locations different than breeding-age adults?  Do captured birds return to the area where they were captured? Do rehabilitated birds breed in future nesting seasons – and where?    

Birds from the BP oil spill are banded with metal federal leg bands with a unique ID number.  In addition, brown pelicans also receive a large color leg band. Three colors of leg bands are being used:

  • Orange bands with no identification numbers or letters.
  • Red bands with identifying numbers and letters.
  • Pink bands with identifying numbers and letters.

People who see the birds are asked to report sightings to the National Bird Banding Lab online. Reporting the band number and the bird’s location will help biologists understand the movements and survival of the birds after their release.

FWC Audubon UFWS