Federal permits for bird banding/marking


Federal banding permits are needed to place any kind of marker on birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (which protects virtually all species native to United States, and not just migratory species). Do not assume that a species is not protected because it is not migratory. Always check the official list.

Banding permits are also needed to place any kind of marker on birds protected under the Endangered Species Act. If you plan to band species protected under the Endangered Species Act, obtain your Endangered Species Act permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service first and then apply for the banding permit.

Blood and feathers can be collected under a bird banding permit if the samples are to be taken in conjunction with banding. Specify when applying for the banding permit that you would also like to take blood and/or feather samples. If you are not planning to mark the bird, you must obtain a scientific collecting permit from the USFWS.

NOTE: most states also require permits for banding, though they typically call these permits scientific collecting permits. See the State Permits page.

How to apply

Application information and links to forms can be found here.


The following provisions within the Federal Code of Regulations apply to the issuance of federal bird banding and marking permits: 50 CFR 10 General Provisions, 50 CFR 13 General Permit Procedures and 50 CFR 21 Migratory Bird Permits

The Bird Banding Lab supplements these regulations with additional policies and practices, which can be found on their website.

Additional Banding Resources

Piranga: A bird-bander’s aid to identifying, ageing and sexing birds of the Western hemisphere

The North American Banding Council (publishes the North American Banders’ Study Guide, in additional to many other resources)

Recent Memos to All Banders (MTABs) & Notes from the USGS Bird Banding Lab