All About Bird Bands

There are several different types of bands used on wild birds in North America. Each type of band is made in many different sizes so that every bird has a suitable size band available for use by banders.

There are 23 standard size bands and 5 specially sized bands made to accommodate the smallest hummingbird to the large Trumpeter Swan.

The three most commonly used in the U. S. are Butt-end, Lock-on and Rivet bands.

The three most commonly used in the U. S. are Butt-end, Lock-on and Rivet bands.

1. Butt-end Bands


The most common type of band used in North America. This band is a round band with two edges that butt evenly together when closed correctly.

2. Lock-on Bands

Lock-on bands are specifically designed to stop birds with strong bills like hawks and owls from opening or damaging the band with their strong bill. The lock-on band is used on all medium to large birds of prey other than eagles. The band is like a normal butt-end band with two flanges of metal. The longer flange is folded over the shorter flange, effectively “locking” the band in place. The band is made of relatively soft aluminum and can be removed by the bander, but not by the bird.

3. Rivet Bands

Like Lock-on Bands, Rivet Bands are also specifically designed to stop birds with strong bills like hawks and owls from opening or damaging the band with their strong bill. Rivet bands are made of harder metal than the lock-on band (but not stainless steel) and are used on eagles. The band has two short flanges of metal that project out from the seam where the two ends of the band meet. These flanges are side by side when the band is closed with a hole for a rivet. The band is riveted in place.

4. Other Bands

Other bands are sometimes seen on birds. Some of these can be reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory, but most cannot. To learn more about other types of bands Federal, Foreign, Pigeon, Falconry, State and Provincial, Private, and Cage Bird Bands are all types of bands that are considered “other” and are not reported to the BBL. Only two of the “other” band types are reported to the BBL: Federal and Foreign.

Other bands are sometimes seen on birds. Some of these can be reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory, but most cannot. To learn more about other types of bands Federal, Foreign, Pigeon, Falconry, State and Provincial, Private, and Cage Bird Bands are all types of bands that are considered “other” and are not reported to the BBL. Only two of the “other” band types are reported to the BBL: Federal and Foreign.