Bander Training and Reference Material

The safe capture, handling and marking of birds requires a high level of skill. The ability to accurately determine a bird's species, age and sex and record the data are mandatory before applying for a banding permit. Generally trainees learn bird banding techniques by working one on one under the guidance of an experienced bander. Before applying for a banding permit applicants should have experience with the following:

  • Be familiar with key publications
  • Know and practice the banders code of ethics
  • Understand how banding fits into scientific studies
  • Recognize all target species
  • Use a variety of grips safely
  • Safely transfer a bird from hand to hand
  • Open a birds bill
  • Select and apply band sizes correctly
  • Recognize an improperly applied band and know when and how to remove a band safely
  • Accurately use wing rules, balances, callipers and other tools
  • Correctly use guides for aging and sexing
  • Operate traps and nets safely
  • Extract a variety of species quickly and safely
  • Prevent injury to birds
  • Record all required data clearly and accurately
  • Understand bio-safety precautions

If you are interested in learning how to band birds please contact your local bird banding association or a bird observatory in your area (see links of interest for contact information).

Banders and trainees should be familiar with a number of reference documents including:

The North American Banding Council (NABC) promotes sound and ethical banding principles and techniques. They have developed a series of training guides and maintain a clearinghouse of learning tools and resources for banders. NABC also offers bander certification at the bander and trainer levels. The banding office encourages banders to continue to develop their skills and become certified. Please visit the NABC web site for more information and certification sessions near you.

Reference Materials

The North American Banding Council (NABC) has published a series of guides on banding study and technique. Most of these guides are available in English, French and Spanish and can be downloaded from their website (

  • Birdband listserv
  • North American Banders' Study Guide
  • Instructors' Guide to Training Bird Banders in North America
  • Guide to the Banding of North American Passerines
  • Guide to the Banding of North American Raptors (available upon request only)
  • Guide to the Banding of North American Hummingbirds
  • Guide to the Banding of North American Shorebirds
  • Nature instruct
  • Western Hemisphere Bird Banding Network

Key publications:

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