How often can one expect to find banded birds?

I know there is no clear answer to this…I just found my first banded bird, and I’m wondering if this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing, or something that active birders observe every few years, or there’s just no way of saying…Any thoughts?

This is the observation, if you’re curious.


This one might be part of an ongoing study in your area (has two additional leg bands rather than the single aluminum numbered band issued to licensed bird banders). I regularly visit a state park where there has been an ongoing mist-netting and bird-banding project for migratory birds for at least a decade. It’s hard to photo a bird there that doesn’t have an aluminum band on its leg!


That makes sense. I’ll keep a sharper eye out now in major parks and natural areas. This bird was found in an urban park. I hope I learn its backstory. :grinning:

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i have no idea about frequency, but i’ve come across a banded shrike before, too. here’s some related previous discussion:


You (and anyone else) can report a banded bird if you can get some information off the band.

They will send you a certificate via email with information about where and when the bird was banded.

Here in Northeast Ohio we see banded geese and gulls. Some of them have a big plastic leg band. With the geese, you can sometimes get a photo of the metal band if they are walking on land and blow it up on a computer to get the characters.

I once got photos of a piping plover with many colored leg bands. It had already been found by some birders and reported. It’s cool to see where a bird was first captured or hatched.

I would bet you could get some information from the colored bands alone on that shrike.

Another note: If you are ever in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, there is an on-going study of the Canada Jays in that area. Most jays you see along the road will have colored leg bands. Some now have radio transmitter backpacks. So, you may see a small wire sticking out from behind the bird.


Texas Loggerhead Shrike study:

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I have been a fairly active birder for the past 10 years, and am probably still in single digits of banded birds I’ve seen. May not be a once in a lifetime thing, but it isn’t very common.


I should have added that I reported the bird to USGS and am waiting to hear something back. Fingers crossed they can ID it!


@ jnstuart I found an Austin-based study for banded shrikes, but couldn’t find contact info for it. I don’t know if Houston/Gulf Coast area shrikes would work their way west or not…no idea about their migration patterns. Maybe so.

chipperatl Thanks for the input. I feel really lucky. And love your handle.

I once observed the same banded ring-billed gull several times over the span of a couple months. I could ID him through his little band number. I ended up submitting the number and finding out who banded him. Emailed the scientist and learned about the gull’s backstory; little guy flew from Canada to NYC!
The gull


Depends where you live - there is banding station ten minutes drive from where I live and we see banded birds quite regularly, sometimes at our garden feeders.

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@ jacky
How cool that you got to find out its backstory. And funny…Ringed Gull / Ringed Bird :laughing:

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