Through HBRC you can train to become a licensed bird bander or a volunteer. The requirements are essentially the same for both. However, the level at which you desire to volunteer will determine the extent of training. If you just want to help out with recording data, minimal training will be required. If you wish to help with removing birds from the nets, the guidelines below will be expected.

HBRC has a high standard for training future banders. HBRC trained banders will experience some of the most efficient and bird-friendly techniques for handling birds and removing birds from the nets. Some of these techniques were acquired from one of the countries foremost banders in the field who bands in excess of 20,000 birds a year.

HBRC trained banders will also be prepared to take and pass the North American Banding Council Certification Exam. Although not currently required, we can expect to see this become a requirement in the future. It is necessary to assure all banders are qualified to handle wild birds and have the most up-to-date knowledge of the techniques and ethics of bird banding.

Trainees will be expected to band a minimum of 400-600 birds prior to applying for a permit.

Below is a stairstep program used by HBRC for banders who desire to become a licensed bander.

HBRC 12-Step Outline to becoming a bird bander.



1st Prove competency at identification of bird species — male and female and by song
2nd Learn how to “open up the nets” and “close the nets”
3rd Assist at the nets by managing bird bags
4th Learn how to record data
5th Become familiar with the Pyle Guide, esp. Part II Introduction.
6th Learn necessary bird banding codes/abbreviations
7th Release birds thereby learning bird handling skills
8th Work the mist nets with Tim Tolford to learn to safely and correctly remove birds.
9th *Prove competency with ageing/sexing techniques
10th Use your knowledge and skills for “show-and-tell” to visitors at the station.
11th Go through the necessary steps of the NABBC Training (certification not currently required prior to obtaining permit)
12th Upon the recommendation and initiation of your Master Permit trainer, apply for a personal sub-permit.

*Depending upon your proposed research, processing birds may occur at a different step than above. There are few circumstances which would allow for this. Unless you have a legitimate research related reason to ask about a “special circumstance” to skip steps, don’t. Or, if you have prior training, your one-on-one time with the station operator will determine a special circumstance.