Banding or Ringing

Colour-ringed Gull ©Andreas Trepte Website
Banding Together

Much of what we know about birds, and most especially migration, has been learnt from studies involving the catching and identification of individual birds. Banding, (in the USA) otherwise known as ringing, (in the UK) is undertaken by amateurs and professionals all over the world at bird observatories, constant effort sites and elsewhere. Love it or loath it, it has undoubtedly made a great contribution to the science of ornithology and to birding.

Looking out for bands can add to your hobby too and there are websites out there just dedicated to sightings of colour-ringed birds. Somewhere on this page there will be just the link you need if you spot a leg-ring and want to know more, or find a banded bird corpse and want to know what you should do next.

Two different conventions exist:

There is the general ringing or banding of birds, whereby a lightweight metal ring is attached to the leg of a captured bird that is then returned to the originator if the bird has been found dead. This has been used to see which populations migrate where, how birds expand territory etc.
There are also banding / ringing schemes using colour bands to make it possible to identify different individuals in the field. This has been used to show, for example, that, contrary to what you may believe, you are not getting the same 4 blue-tits at your garden feeders but, over just a few days it may be 70 different individuals!

It is not just movement than that can be deduced from ringing records, but longevity, site loyalty and much more.

Many local observatories offer courses where you can learn how to band and join ringing schemes.

Useful Reading
  • Bird Ringing Station Manual

    | By Przemysław Busse & Włodzimierz Meissner | De Gruyter | 2015 | Hardback | 211 pages, colour & b/w photos, b/w illustrations, tables | ISBN: 9788376560526 Buy this book from
  • Ringing

    | By Dawn Balmer, Liz Coiffait, Jacquie Clark & Rob Robinson | British Trust for Ornithology | 2008 | Paperback | 75 pages, Colour photos, graphs, maps | ISBN: 9781906204457 Buy this book from
  • Wings and Rings

    | (A History of Bird Migration Studies in Europe) | By Richard Vaughan | Isabelline Books | 2009 | Paperback | 256 pages, colour and black & white plates | ISBN: 9780955278747 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • The Ring

    THE RING is an international journal dealing with problems of bird ringing, migration and monitoring bird numbers. The main fields of interest are original papers, review articles and methodical discussions. Information, progress reports, personal comments and short notes or news are also accepted to the informative columns of the journal. Although papers are refereed, conclusions, opinions and discussion are published on the author's responsibility.
  • BTO Bird Ringing Scheme ringing scheme logo

    Bird ringing generates information on the survival, productivity and movements of birds, helping us to understand why populations are changing.
  • Catalan Ringing Group (Institut Catal

    The Catalan Ringing Group (Grup Catal
  • EURING - The European Union for bird ringing

    Birds freely cross political boundaries and so international cooperation is vital for research and conservation. EURING promotes international collaboration on all aspects of scientific bird ringing, particularly in Europe and along the Eurasian African flyway. Our work includes collaborative research, data sharing and scientific meetings.
  • European Colour-ring Birding

    European colour-ring Birding is a platform between the field-observer and the project-leader. Therefore it can not provide any details or life-list of your sighting. To get this information, you have to go through this website, find the project-leader and contact her/him.
  • Grampian Ringing Group

    Welcome to the Website and Blog of the Grampian Ringing Group. We're a very active bird ringing group covering the entire Grampian region since 1977.
  • Grupo Ornitológico Zamalla

    Birds migration and banding birds in South Spain
  • Highland Ringing Group

    Facebook Page
    The Highland Ringing Group area is highlighted in green on the map below. We are based in the north of Scotland. Local HRG members are scattered around the Moray Firth coast with a few living in remote straths and glens inland or on the coast. Political boundaries embrace Moray/Nairn, Inverness, Lochaber, Ross-shire, Caithness & Sutherland, Skye & Lochalsh.
  • Merseyside Ringing Group - UK

    Members of the group ring wild birds, mostly in the counties of Cheshire, Merseyside, Flintshire and Denbighshire in North West England and North Wales. The main aim of our work is to benefit the birds through science, education and conservation
  • Newbury Ringing Group - Berkshire, UK

    All the members of Newbury Ringing Group are volunteers who are enjoying a constructive hobby and contributing to the national bird ringing scheme organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). The scientific aims and results of our efforts are explained together with some of the highlights of our work over the last 30 or so years
  • Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

    Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) produces innovative science to support natural resource management and meet our nation’s most pressing conservation challenges. PWRC research topics include bird population dynamics, ecotoxicology, and the development of quantitative & decision analysis tools. We conduct several national programs, including the Bird Banding Lab and the Breeding Bird Survey.
  • Powdermill Avian Research Center

    Bird Banding, Bioacoustical Research, Avian Perception of Glass, and more. Powdermill Avian Research Center (PARC) is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station Powdermill Nature Reserve.
  • Ringing Groups

    Ringing Groups are formed by people who wish to pursue a common interest in ringing related bird studies. All of the groups below are currently registered with the BTO and operating using BTO rings.
  • Trektellen

    Migration counts and ringing records The Netherlands, Flanders and France
  • Western Bird Banding Association

    The Western Bird Banding Association (WBBA) was founded in 1925 to provide guidance and assistance to a relatively small number of western bird banders, located then primarily in Southern California.
Forums & Mailing Lists
  • Birdband

    Mailing List
    Discussion Group and mailing list for bird banders
  • CR-Birding

    Mailing Group
    You watch a cr-bird whose scheme is not on the Dirk Raes' Website - Mail your data on the list to get the solution! You launch a cr-scheme? Mail its particulars! If you write in your mother tongue, don't forget to add an English translation in the same mail (English is the default language of this European list).
Other Links
  • Bird Ringing

    Wikipedia article
  • Colour Mark Recording

    This document describes a standard way of recording colour marks (combinations of colour rings, colour rings with enscriptions, multi-coloured rings, leg flags, neck collars, wing tags, nasal tags and saddles
  • European Colour Ring Birding

    With the help of Alain Foss
  • Huddleston & Jackson Bird Ringing Partnership

    This Web Site is being created to pass on information from the Huddleston & Jackson Bird Ringing (Banding) Partnership that operates in the York area of the UK. Folks with an interest in Ringing/Banding, or the simply curious will enjoy a visit to the excellent new website.
  • LaB O R I Ng - Passeriformes del Pale

    Guide to West Palearctic Passeriformes [In spanish] for ringers and other birders you can add to.
  • NHBS Ringing Accessories

    Everything needed to safely ring birds
  • Wheatear

    Welcome to Since the Mid 1980s we have been carrying out Ornithological Research on a voluntary basis for the British Trust for Ornithology. This has primarily been through the Nest Records and Ringing Schemes. Since 1997 this has been carried out as part of the Huddleston & Jackson Bird Ringing Partnership operating in the York Area.

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