Band design

About banding

types of Bands

Types of Bands

Good band design means making sure that bands don't injure birds or change the way they live, even after many years.

A band must be the right size and shape and must be tough enough to outlast its wearer without causing injury. A band for a Willy Wagtail needs to last only about 15 years while a band on a Wandering Albatross might have to survive more than 60 years of constant dunking in seawater!

Band size

Band size is very important - too large and the band might slip down over the foot of the bird, but too small and it could cut into the bird's leg.

Band shape is also important for some species. Pelicans have legs that are egg-shaped and pelican bands must be shaped that way too so that they don't rub and cause injuries. You can see a Pelican band in the top right hand corner in the picture above. Some kingfishers have very short legs, so narrower bands are needed for them.

Penguins' legs are so short that leg bands can't safely be used at all. Instead, flat metal tags are put around their flippers, such as this one.

In time, even metal bands can wear out. How quickly depends on the habits of the bird, where it lives and what the band is made of. Some of the earliest bands used on seabirds were made of copper but they corroded too quickly and had to be replaced. The metals now used in ABBBS bands are long-lasting and hard-wearing. Small sized bands are mostly made from pure aluminium or an aluminium alloy. Larger bands are usually made from stainless steel.

The ABBBS carries around 40 different types of bands for birds and bats. There are five sizes designed primarily for waders (sizes 3,4,5,6 and 7 in incoloy), with an additional four sizes for use as an alternative (sizes 4,5,6 and 7 in stainless steel). One band is designed specifically for Shearwaters (size 16), and one for Pelicans (size 17). There are currently four sizes for use on Penguins (sizes 19, 26,29 and 30), and ten for use on parrots (sizes 20,21,22,23,24,25,31,32,33 and 34).

Nearly all ABBBS bands carry a standard numbering system comprising a three digit prefix which indicates the band size, and a five digit identifying serial number. The prefix also indicates which 100,000 bands within that band size are currently being used e.g. a band with prefix 032 is a size three band from the third 100,000 issued. The first 100,000 for each size band has the last number of the prefix as 0, the second 100,000 as 1 etc.

Inform wildlife

A Standard bird band. The message on the band varies with the size of the band and includes the word Australia if the band is likely to be recovered outside Australia. Bands manufactured when the CSIRO administered the ABBBS include the letters CSIRO in the message.

Russian band

Russian band

A Russian band. Note the return address, with the word 'inform'.

There are some bands that do not carry a return address at all due to size restrictions. These include size 0 and 1 bat bands, and size 31, 32, 33 and 34 stainless steel 'donna' bands. These bands still have the same numbering system as standard bird bands, with the exception of the bat bands.

All ABBBS bat bands have a two digit prefix, as opposed to the three digits in standard bands.

If you think you may have found a ABBBS band, with or with out a return address, please go to How to Report a Bird or Bat Band Recovery in Australia.