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Why does the Bird Observatory band birds?

Bird banding provides valuable information that helps us study dispersal, migration, behavior, social structure, life span, survival rate, reproductive success, and population growth. At the Bird Observatory, we band to study the seasonal and long term population patterns of migratory, wintering and year-round resident birds. Banding allows us to track individuals, which is important in factoring survival, migratory turnover rates, and longevity. Additionally, banding birds allows us to examine individual response to the riparian restoration at the Coyote Creek Field Station. For example, by knowing the age of individual birds, we have discovered the immature and adult Song Sparrow use the restored habitats differently. Furthermore, we have discovered strong species preference to habitat characteristics associated with the restored habitats. As more and more of our Bay Area creeks are restored, these data are important for land managers and those designing future riparian restorations to create habitats that can support healthy, vibrant bird populations.

Bird Banding

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, along with most other banding facilities in North America, sends our banding data to the Bird Banding Laboratory (of USGS), which stores all of this information. This collective of information tells us how far a bird may travel during migration and which path it chooses to take. At the Bird Observatory, we have banded birds recaptured as far away as Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Newport Beach, California, and have also recaptured birds from as far as Alaska and Oregon.


If you happen to come across a dead bird with a band on it, the Bird Banding Lab at 1-800-327-2263 with the band number and information about when and where the bird or band was found. This could give provide important information to both those who originally banded the bird and the bird community.