Animal Career Secrets Explores Careers in Bird Banding (Bird Ringing)

Animal Career Secrets Explores Careers in Bird Banding. All content copyrighted 2007 by Diana L Guerrero. Some rights reserved.

 

Lincoln Bird Banding Biological Survey

 

There are many people who are interested in working with birds. There are many different careers with animals and each has a variety of specialty areas. Studies for a career with birds may include ornithology, falconry, bird banding, or rehabilitation. There are also careers training pet birds, bird behavior, leading birding groups and more.

Today I am going to touch on banding birds. Banding is a process where a numbered band is placed on a bird’s leg. Believe it or not, bird banding has been a career area for about 105 years and the man credited with starting it all was Dr. Paul Bartsch of the Smithsonian Institution.

Today banding reports are still submitted and the band number is entered into a computer database and contains important information about the particular animal such as the species, sex, condition, age, and the area where it was banded.

Every time a banded bird is trapped and released again, or if the bird is found dead, the database is updated. The latest statistics available to me were that in 2001 a whopping 1,049,646 birds were banded in the United States and Canada, and 97,204 recoveries were reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory.

 

Wing Tag During Great Frigate Bird Study

Traditionally a biology degree is helpful but studying ornithology is more appropriate. If you want more opportunities consider a field of study that allows you wider options…however for this field a degree is not always required.

Banders are a select group and there are only 2000 Master banding permits and 3000 subpermits in the United States. Those who apply for a banding permit must show that they are qualified to safely trap, handle, and band the birds.

To become a master at bird banding the minimum age is 18 years for the permit. A project proposal must be submitted and you will need recommendations by three licensed bird banders or professional ornithologists discussing your skills. The actual requirements I found are:

Applicants who are at least 18 years of age and are able to identify all of the common birds in their different seasonal plumages may apply for a bird banding permit. However, it is recommended that applicants initially request a subpermit under an existing bander. Applications are submitted to the Bird Banding Laboratory in the USA or the Canadian Wildlife Service in Canada. The applicants must furnish the names of three well-known bird banders or ornithologist who can vouch for their expertise as a bird bander.

To get experience prior to applying for a permit you should volunteer to help local bird banders in your area. Call the local universities, natural history museums, bird groups, or wildlife refuges to find out who is banding birds in your area. Most enjoy having volunteers.

If you do a good job and learn the nuances of bird banding, you may be able to obtain the recommendations you need to proceed. Each state varies in the way they regulate bird banding. There are both federal and state permits so you’ll need to check into the requirements for your particular state and also if you need special permits for trapping devices such as mist nets (specially designed nets for capturing birds).

The Avian Flu has raised concern for some handling wild birds so the National Wildlife Health Center has a page you might be interested in viewing. It specifically updates those working with wild birds about health issues.

 

Birds are fascinating animals to work with and since there are so many varieties this is an area of focus you might want to explore.

Diana L Guerrero is an animal career specialist and has extensive experience in many areas of the animal world. A well known animal expert, she has worked professionally with animals for over thirty years. Guerrero is the author of several books and the host of the syndicated, Ark Animal Answers.

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