Banded birds and other tagged animals

i came across a banded loggerhead shrike with a transmitter the other day. when you come across an animal that has been banded / ringed or otherwise tagged, is it helpful to report the animal to some sort of authority? if so, how do i find out the best way to report it? (i searched onlline a bit, and it looks like there’s a loggerhead shrike working group, but there’s also a North American bird banding program, and there’s USGS, etc… so with so many organizations, which is the best to contact?)

separately, i also thought about adding this observation to a Banded Birds project, but don’t really feel like joining the project just to add a single observation. is there another way to add an observation to a project or to flag it for inclusion in a project?


In general, banded birds in the US should be reported here: But I’m not aware of other banding projects that would include a transmitter on this species, and it’s nice to go specific, then general when possible. So contact the Loggerhead Shrike Working Group first.
You can @ or message one of the curators on the Banded Birds project and ask them to add it. Make sure your observation settings allows others to add it to projects first.


Any banding of wild birds in N. America is supposed to be reported to the USGS Bird Banding Lab, and if you get a band number, they can tell you who banded it and where. Reporting to other groups is useful when you can find them, so yes, I would contact that working group if you can find their info. The bird banding lab doesn’t do much banding themselves – they coordinate what other researchers do, and keep a national database of banded birds.


Each country has own ringing centre website with email address mentioned there where you can submit your records. You can send info in both country centre and Shrike prorgamm, depends on whether they share information. Technically they should. For more precise info I’d recommend to write to someone who’s working on programm or ringed the bird, as they usually give you much more information than the country centre (more paragraphs of info included), or even give you the list of previous sightings of the bird.
I see no reason why would you not enter the project if you have only 1 observation, 1 is a value, so don’t be afraid.
If anyone has similar questions for Europe useful websites are


I don’t see the transmitter on the bird but here’s what I can tell you. The red band is a location band, meaning the bander has a series of locations he/she bands at and there are “target species” at those locations. When they capture a target species, they will band them with that numberless colored band to tell observers it was banded at that location and the color will be different with each location. The green band has a number but it’s green so it’s not a US Federal Band so that’s probably means it may have been banded in Canada or Mexico. The USGS as mentioned above provided with links can probably still help you.

ok. thanks to everyone for the replies so far.

it sounds like it is helpful to report banded / tagged animals. so i went ahead and sent a note to the Loggerhead Shrike Working Group (since it was recommended to contact the most specific group first), and i’m looking at the form for the USGS Bird Banding Lab. (that latter form is more complicated, and i was looking for a place to report a more detailed location than just state. i can’t seem to find it, but maybe i’ll see if i come back to it later today. or maybe they just don’t care about the location?)

i think it’s a transmitter, but i’m not sure. in the first photo, it sort of looks like there’s a long thing (about 1.5x the length of the bird) poking out of the bird’s butt. i thought maybe fishing line at first, but it looks more rigid than that – like an antenna, which i’m assuming is attached to a transmitter. it looks like the antenna is going down the center of the bird’s back or maybe offset slightly to the right, and the bird might be holding its tail slightly to the left. i’m not sure.

i see green over red on the left leg and silver (federal?) over yellow on the right leg. i looked briefly at a loggerhead shrike banding manual (, but as one uninitiated in the banding arts, i don’t really understand it. i think page 9 is telling me that the yellow band could mean the bird was tagged in Texas in breeding season 2018, but then the red band could also mean the bird was tagged in wintering season 2019. so who knows? i guess if it the bird was banded somewhere else, that would be nice to know, but it’s probably not worth it (for me personally) to spend too much time trying to crack that code.

UPDATE (later same day):
i added a report to the USGS BBL, too. it did eventually let me add coordinates by picking a point on a map, after selecting country, state, and federal management area. not a great user interface / workflow, in my opinion, but it is what it is.

here was the initial stock reply by USGS BBL:

There is no need to respond to this email. If you have any questions, comments, or changes please send an e-mail to: Be sure to include the Marker Reference ID from this email and any necessary details.

As you probably know, these markers are used by researchers to address many questions regarding bird movements and other aspects of their life history. They enable researchers to track movements of individual banded birds without the need to recapture them. The banding and color marking of birds is conducted by a variety of researchers, some with State, Federal, NGO, or university affiliations. Our office authorizes these projects, but is not directly involved in them.

We receive thousands of these reports each year and attempt to respond to the sighters with information on each. However, due to various reasons, we are often not able to. Each bird with a color marker is also wearing a metal Federal leg band, which bears the 9-digit number that is the code by which we ultimately store our data.

There are two possible responses to these reports:

  1. We will be able to match the marker to an individual bird (by leg band number), and enter your sighting information into our database, producing a certificate that will give you all the banding information along with your sighting information.

  2. We will be able to match the marker to a bander, but not an individual bird, in which case we will contact the bander asking him/her to explain the nature of the project and what they have learned from the marking.

We cannot predict or control the nature of the response you will get from the bander, although we do make them aware that color marking authorizations carry with them an obligation to respond to the public. Many color marking projects are designed to study only local movements, and the bander may not be interested in reports from afar.

Because there can be several steps involved in resolving these reports, the process may take a long while. Please do not report the marker a second time! If we are unable to match the marker you reported, we will notify you by e-mail. This is, unfortunately, a common outcome, due to the fact that colors fade, markers fall off, codes are misread, etc.

Your interest, cooperation and patience are greatly appreciated.


USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Laboratory,


Colored bands vary with the bander and their purpose – in some cases (Piping Plovers, for instance) they’re used to denote location. In others, the combinations of colors are used to designate individuals. Given what I’m seeing and you’re describing, I suspect that the latter is what’s going on. So the jobs I’ve worked, we would have written this as G/R A/Y (The A stands for aluminum), which would have indicated a particular individual.


Most colour bands/rings/flags/etc. are used to determine individuals, expecially with high amount of birds ringed. Less projects add rings to show seasons/locations, e.g. we ringed Whinchats using the same combination of colour rings for each nest, with one cr showing the season and other one unique for the nest (and aliminium one unique for each bird). But it was done for work to show if they return to the cites they were hatched.


Thanks for reporting it! The bird band lab is really good about sending follow-ups. The couple of times I’ve sent things in, I’ve gotten info on the bird within a couple weeks.


yup. the USGS BBL sent a note to the bander today, and i got a reply from the bander an hour and a half later. apparently, they’re studying how year-round residents and winter migrants behave and coexist along the Texas Gulf Coast prairie:


I received a report from the BBL that you reported a banded shrike at Brazoria NWR. Thanks very much for reporting it! This bird was banded on November 25, 2019 as part of our new Loggerhead Shrike project which you can read about here:

You were correct in reporting that it has a transmitter. We are tracking this shrike daily so that we can do a territory and habitat usage study. Your report gives us another data point for our study! Thanks so much.


Susan A. Heath PhD
Director of Conservation Research
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
The opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the company.


That is indeed an antenna for a transmitter strapped to the bird’s back. It’s a short-range battery-powered transmitter putting out signals which are picked up by stationary towers operated by many different researchers as part of a collaborative project. You can view a map with the locations of all the receiver towers here:

(Motus is my job, so I was really excited to see this.)


i’m amazed that there’s so much infrastructure out there for this. good work to all involved in that. :weight_lifting_woman:

i was digging a little deeper, and if i assume the date of banding is the same date the transmitter was deployed, then if i look at tag deployments on the Motus website ( or, then it looks like this bird’s band number is 1292-65724, and it was (probably) tagged at 28.7781, -95.6319, which is to the southwest, in a neighborhood between East Matagorda Bay and San Bernard NWR. there are 6 detection records for this particular shrike ( from 11/25 to 12/1 at a receiver in that neighborhood. so i guess that means sometime between 12/1 and 12/6, it decided to move NE to Brazoria NWR.

Signal data from most towers has to be retrieved by hand, since they’re not connected to the internet. So as new data comes in, there are likely to be retroactive additions to the list of detections of this bird. I’m not sure what schedule this project is using, but fairly large, organized projects like this one typically do the rounds of their receivers about once a month. (Small projects often only upload once a year, or near the end of the twice-yearly migration seasons.)

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Thanks for this info! I never realized that there’s a website to submit banded bird sightings. Thanks to this thread and the link I was able to report two banded snowy plovers I saw last month. The iNat forum is a really neat place :)


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