Bird Banding Laboratory

National Biological Service
Office of Inventory and Monitoring


Bird banding is a universal and indispensable technique for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. The North American Bird Banding Program is jointly administered by the United States National Biological Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Their respective banding offices have similar functions and policies and use the same bands, reporting forms and data formats. Joint coordination of the program dates back to 1923.

In the U.S., the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) at Laurel, Maryland, functions as a service and administrative center for those who use the banding technique or banding data in their work. BBL issues permits and bands, supplies forms, instructional materials and technical advice, coordinates the use of auxiliary markers colored leg bands and radio transmitters, serves as the repository for banding data, serves as the clearinghouse for reports of banded birds, disseminates banding data to researchers and managers, and assists in the development and coordination of banding projects.

The Program supports the work of federal and state conservation agencies, the academic community, professional and amateur ornithologists, nongovernmental organizations, and businesses. These banders are involved in promulgating hunting regulations, monitoring bird populations, restoring endangered species, studying effects of environmental contaminants, studying bird behavior and ecology, and addressing issues of human health, safety and economy.

BBL data files contain records of 54,000,000 bandings and 2,900,000 recoveries of banded birds. The files are updated with 1,100,000 bandings and 55,000 recoveries annually. Nine hundred (900) species and subspecies are represented. Nongame species comprise 75% of the bandings and 25% of the recoveries. With the exception of pre-1955 nongame bird bandings, all records are computerized. Data are supplied free of charge in the form of computer listings, magnetic tapes, disks or electronically transmitted files depending on the size of the file and the requestor's needs. Minor restrictions protecting the proprietary interests of banders may apply in some cases.

For more information contact:

Bird Banding Laboratory     
National Biological Survey      
12100 Beech Forest Road         
Laurel, MD 20708-4037           

TEL 301-497-5790 FAX 301-497-5784


Bird Banding Office
National Wildlife Research Centre
Canadian Wildlife Service
Hull, Quebec K1A 0H3
TEL 819-994-6176
FAX 819-953-6612