Apprentice To Be A Bander

Through HBRC you can train to become a licensed bird bander.

HBRC has a high standard for training future banders. HBRC trained banders will experience some of the most efficient and bird-friendly (ethical) 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.

Apprentices will be expected to band a minimum of 500 birds and as many as 700 prior to applying for a permit.

A viable research project must be in place prior to applying for a sub-permit. This will be submitted with your permit application and is subject to approval by the Bird Banding Laboratory who is the licensing division for all banding permits.

Below is a stairstep program used by HBRC for banders who desire to obtain a banding permit.

HBRC 12-Step Apprenticeship to becoming a bird bander.



1st Prove competency at identification of bird species you may encounter at your research site — male and female and by song.
2nd Learn how to open and close mist nets.
3rd Assist at the nets by managing bird bags.
4th Learn how to record data.
5th Become familiar with the Pyle Guide Part II introduction.
6th Learn necessary bird banding codes/abbreviations.
7th Release birds after bander processes the birds thereby learning bird handling skills and appropriate “grips.”
8th Work the mist nets with Tim Tolford or an HBRC approved trainer to learn to safely and correctly remove birds.
9th *Prove competency with ageing/sexing techniques through banding/processing a minimum of 500 birds.
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 and Testing.
12th Upon the recommendation and initiation of your Master Permit trainer, determine a viable research project and apply for a personal sub-permit. (projects subject to approval of the Bird Banding Laboratory)

*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.