Good bird banding guidelines

Our banding sessions for the MAPS program have been successfully completed; For this reason, I’d like to share some recommendations for safe bird banding in other parks.


Always identify the side of the net where each bird falls; it can be recognized because their bellies will not have threads. Likewise, all extractions should be done by people with previous training to avoid hurting birds or vice versa.

*Handling birds

To process a bird, we must use the bander’s grip, which consists of holding the bird by putting the fingers of the left hand between its nape, as shown in the first picture and the next one. The pressure must be gentle.

Example of the bander’s grip with a House Wren

The photographer’s grip is recommended to take pictures, which consists of holding the bird’s legs as close to its body as possible (see image below). However, avoid this grip when taking pictures of hummingbirds.

Photographer’s grip with a Pine Siskin

*Band sizes

Using the correct band size with each bird is necessary to avoid hurting their legs. Therefore, we should always check Peter Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds and verify with our leg gauge when it suggests more than one band size.

Our table with leg gauges next to the pliers


When we receive visitors at the banding stations, they only have the opportunity to release birds. Eventually, if they are more frequent visitors, they can participate in activities such as; handling birds, writing data, or setting and lowering nets.

Releasing a Broad-tailed Hummingbird

For more recommendations, I suggest reviewing The North American Banders’ Study Guide, available online. Thanks for reading this blog!

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