Leg ring on dead bird

Observation of banded dead pigeon

So once when I was walking through a parking lot to a store I stumbled upon a dead feral pigeon that was flattened near where my car was and I saw that it had a red leg ring on it. I couldn’t make out what it said on the leg ring but there were letters and numbers. And that got me wondering more about what is the purpose of leg rings on birds in the wild and why people put them on birds. Also is seeing a leg ring on a dead bird something to worry about?


a band on a pigeon likely means that it was under the care of the a pigeon trainer. in the US, i think this is this organization that governs the bands, and you could report the bird to them, if you like: https://www.pigeon.org/pages/lostbirdinfo.html.

banding of wild birds in the US is overseen by the USGS Bird Banding Lab. you can read more about that and report banded wild birds here: https://www.usgs.gov/labs/bird-banding-laboratory.


This would definitely be a pigeon that belonged to someone. I don’t think there’s anyone who bands feral rock pigeons in North America for science, and that doesn’t look like a federal marker that wild bird banders use.


Rings or bands on the legs of wild birds are not something to worry about. In addition to bands, some birds carry tags, usually on the wings or neck, intended to be read from a distance. In North America, banding or tagging truly wild birds is strictly regulated. Some banding is done purely for education, but most banding is part of scientific studies. Things I know have been studied using bird bands are bird migration, territory size, behavior, molt or plumage changes of individuals, population size and changes, and survival rates. No doubt other things are studied using bands, too.

If you see a banded bird (alive or dead) in North America, you can report it to bandreports@usgs.gov . If you photo a banded or tagged bird anywhere in the world, you can post it on iNaturalist and add it to the project Banded Birds. Reporting these birds contributes to scientific studies.


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