Permits ~ Canada

Note: The Ornithological Council recommends that you submit all permit applications at least 90 calendar days prior to the date you intend to start work – but in the case of species at risk permits, allow up to 2 months.

Bird banding permits

The Canadian Bird Banding Office in Ottawa issues scientific permits to capture and band migratory birds in Canada under the authority of the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

To apply for a banding permit, the BBO requires that applicants:

  1. Have experience identifying, capturing, handling, banding, sexing, and ageing the bird species or species group you are targeting;
  2. Be aware of and follow ethical and scientific standards for capture, handling and marking birds in Canada.
  3. Submit a complete bird banding permit application. 
  4. If using markers other than federal metal bands and color bands or collecting biological samples, provide a copy of your Animal Use Protocol (AUP) and certification approval by a CCAC certified Institutional Animal Care Committee (ACC).

The use of auxiliary markers (i.e., markers in addition to standard federal leg bands) is not authorized unless specifically noted on your bird banding permit. Fill out Appendix 3 of the Banding permit application form to request the use of auxiliary markers.

Applicants applying to use radio-telemetry may require a permit from Industry Canada. Contact your nearest regional office for more information

Visit the Bird Banding Office for more details about the types of banding permits available. 

Federal scientific permits

Activities such as collection of nests, eggs, dead birds, or taking birds into captivity, require a federal scientific permit. Contact your Canadian Wildlife Service Regional Office for more information

Provincial or territorial permits

Some birds such as owls, hawks, falcons, eagles, cormorants, pelicans, crows, jays, kingfishers, and some species of blackbirds are not federally protected. Provinces and territories have their own statutes protecting birds and other wildlife. Please contact provincial and territorial authorities where you intend to band to ensure you have all necessary permits in place. Ptarmigan, quail, pheasants, and grouse are not part of from the North American Bird Banding Program. Contact your local provincial or territorial authority regarding these species.

Protected areas

Banding in a provincial/territorial park or protected area may require approval or permits from the provincial/territorial government. Authorization to band in provincial or territorial protected areas may be obtained through provincial conservation officers. If you are interested in conducting research in a national park, please contact Parks Canada.  If you are interested in conducting research on federally protected lands contact your Canadian Wildlife Service Regional Office.

Species at risk

Applicants applying to capture and band a threatened or endangered migratory bird listed under the Species at Risk Act must possess a SARA-compliant MBCA permit. For species not protected by the Migratory Bird Convention Act additional permits may be required. Contact your provincial or territorial authority or CWS regional office or visit the Species at Risk Permit System.

Import and Export permits

Permits to import and export scientific samples may be required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.