Reading Your Bird’s Leg Band

 

Q: My cockatiel has a ring on its leg with letters and numbers on it. What is it for?

– Beverly F., Staten Island, NY

A: The ring is called a leg band and it is intended as a means to identify your bird’s place of origin as well as some other information.

The practice of banding began in North America a couple of hundred years ago by field researchers in an effort to keep track of the populations of wild migratory birds and local flocks.

In later years, as parrots became popular pets in North America, their importation (as well as all other bird species) began being carefully tracked by USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Imported birds often bring with them the diseases that are prevalent in their native habitats and following an outbreak of psittacosis in the early 1900s, the US clamped down on bird importation and finally set a ban on it in 1992.

Because banding is practical, safe and non-invasive to a bird, you almost never see a bird in the company of humans without one. There are two kinds of legbands that are relative to us as parrot owners:

  • The closed leg bands that we see on parrots indicate that it has been captive bred. This band is an unbroken ring that is slid onto the small leg of hatchling and becomes a permanent fixture once the bird has reached maturity.
  • The open band, a rounded split ring that is placed on the leg of an adult bird, indicates that it was at one point detained in an importation station. A bird with an open band was either brought into the country as a wild caught bird prior to the importation ban, or was transported as a pet from another country and stayed in the importation station during a period of quarantine.

Because there are so many leg bands on so many birds for so many different reasons, it makes sense that each should bear markings that make them distinguishable from all others. Eventually, early in the leg band’s history, a much needed system began to develop using numbers and letters that revealed information about the wearer’s origins.

Unfortunately the system is not yet a universal one within the breeding community. The closed bands we see on most companion birds do not always carry the same information. The breeder’s ID code, the year of hatching and an ID# assigned to the bird may or may not all appear on a band.

 

Unless the bands were supplied to the breeder through a parrot society, such as the AFA (American Federation of Aviculture), there are no standards for the information that is contained on them. There are many breeders out there doing things in their own ways because there isn’t a system to follow that has been set in stone.

Usually, there are letters that identify the breeder’s state that can give you a starting point for investigation.

The open band is by far the easier to track. Importation stations are either USDA owned (most are closed now) or privately owned (but supervised by the USDA), meaning that there are only two band code systems to consider and each relates to a limited number of importation stations throughout the country (less than 100 compared to the thousands of breeders using closed bands.)

A USDA band will always carry the letter USDA followed by 2 or 3 letters that identify the state, and city if more than one station exists in that state. It will be followed by 3 or 4 identifying numbers, for example: USDAM 1234. This traces back to a station in Miami.

A quarantine band from a privately owned station will always have three letters followed by three numbers, such as CRO 123. The first letter indicates the state is California, the second letter IDs the station and the third letter and the following three numbers identify the bird.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

 

 

168 comments

Monica

I have a sun conure with leg band 12206 RMA FL. I would love to know the information from it

Monica
carla shawcroft

i need to find info on the code, CZ 55 19 26247 for my birds leg ring, any help please x

carla shawcroft
sara

African Grey Parrot Open band-NJ 8992399 what does it mean?

sara
Lesley Lewis

Trying to find out more information on my Blue Quaker blue closed ring reads CZ 5.5 22 12264

Lesley Lewis
Weena

Closed leg band on sunconure LGA 879?

Weena
Stacey elliott

Iv recently took a amazon parrot in 1st time owner trying to do my research I’m gaining trust slowly and trying to find as much information as possible on him/her iv tried my best to search information on his leg ring woundering if you could assist in any way it reads Cz 110 19(sidewards) 2167 Many thanks

Stacey elliott
Onur COŞKUN

SK 457 Patagonian CONUR ????

Onur COŞKUN
Destiny L

I have rescued 2 cockatiels from a bad house and the lutino has a leg band on “her” right leg it’s a closed band that has HAI FL 2188(goes with the band) and AFA

Destiny L
Tammy

My U2 Has a closed band . Says DF FL (is sideways) numbers are257. Can anyone assist me with origin please

Tammy
Tammy

My U2 Has a closed band . Says DF FL (is sideways) numbers are257. Can anyone assist me with origin please

Tammy
Tonya Hamlet

I recently rescued an umbrella cockatoo from a traveling exotic auction, and the owner was present and told me it’s a female 3 yrs old, breedable, and on an all seed diet! This was all the information I could get out of her about the bird cause she also had a male that she was selling. She said they was kept in the cage together, and she sold them separately. He was a very stressed cockatoo, judging by the feather plucking issue but, seemed very calm and allowed strangers to pet him without a care in the world! The one I got is named “Angel” she’s the sweetest bird ever, doesn’t bite, steps up when asked but, doesn’t play with toys. I don’t think she’s had any type of training at all, cause she refuses to take anything from my hands, and is very fearful of a target stick. She’s flies but, doesn’t land on commanded targets. She refuses to try any kind of food other than her store bought seed! I’m very worried she’s losing a little weight, and i’m trying EVERYTHING I can think of to get her to try fresh veggies, fruit, and pellets, and she’s just not having it! I’m trying sweet potato, and fruits mixed in with seed (just to find a starting point) but, she just picks out the seeds and leaves the rest! The leg band is on the right leg, and I thought that meant male!? She’s bit it and dented it so, I can’t read the numbers, and what little I can make out is “46 A” It looks very worn, which makes me think she’s older than what I was told! She truly is a beautiful, sweet cockatoo, and I really want to give her the best life! She’s very smitten with my hubby, lol and even calls him out by his name. Although, I can’t get her to say mine but, she does say "pretty Angel, pretty bird, hello Angel, what ya doing, how are you, etc… I live in Tennessee, and it’s just beautiful here so, I ordered a harness and leash cause i want to take her outside to enjoy the fresh air hopefully next summer, as winter is almost here. Any advice on the diet switch, leg band, training, etc… y’all can help me with, I’d love it! Maybe a consult!? Thank you so much, Sincerely Tonya

Tonya Hamlet
Matthew

I metal detect and I’ve found a bird band but know bird but how do you report the number1912small 50vertical79followed by small 51so together191250 vertical79 then 51

Matthew
Ailene

My mother got an African Grey and her leg band says RAM NEH 03 46. Is there a way I can find out wat it means

Ailene
Beth

Adopted a Congo grey with tag PNT NY 5061. I’m hoping these numbers somehow indicate the year he was hatched in NY

Beth
Lisa

Hi long story but I’ve taken on a macaw from a car garage that was no longer wanted (his doing marvellous and a completely different bird since joining us) he has no band how and where do I start to get him one Cheers xx

Lisa
Cesar clavijo

Was given a sun conure it has a closed band with this info. GRB CA 14 147 CAN YOU HELP ME DECIFER THE INFORMATION

Cesar clavijo
mike

A monumental task, but it looks like there’s a need for a site that’s dedicated to compiling a database of band number identification like the FBI’s IAFIS, or the newer DNA database

mike
Oriana

Hello! I recently adopted a DYH Amazon and couldn’t find her tag ID anywhere. I noticed on this page you have a bird with a tag starting in RDS. Mine has the same what does that mean? It also says 90- does that mean born in 90? She could be around 33 yrs of age so it may make sense.

Oriana
Janette Strohl - Bush

Just found a parakeet with a band that has PSI 776 09. Had I only walked out the door a few minutes sooner I might have been able to save her. She is a blue and white with a blueish cere that is now turned brown so she must have gotten out during breeding. She was still warm when I picked her up. She looks the ones I had growing up. I am going to bury her little body.

Janette Strohl - Bush
Jami

I just got a conure and it has a leg band but I can’t seem to identify it anywhere. The number starts with BPD . Where can I look it up

Jami
lola

I got a budgerigar and his id ring is dark blue and it says 6 then a bird symbol c 3 5 7 9 and then 23 sideways what does that stand for?

lola
BirdTricks Team

PLEASE READ: Unfortunately, our system doesn’t allow us to reply directly in the comments section but we do try to email those that leave comments on our blog.

BirdTricks Team
Judy

Why does anyone ask any questions this ignorant site doesn’t answer anybody’s questions?? I have a bird band to I would like to know what my parakeets age was the numbers on the band are A 229845 but you say leave a comment why? You don’t answer anyone!!!!

Judy
Norma jean

We have a amazon mascow parrot. It was given to us. He has a ring around hir anckle and hes been pcking at it.when we first got the parrot it was melnutrian and neglected and lost alot of his feathers. We had since Jan. 2023 and his feathers has not grown back since now. But other then that he has gain alot of weight and been happy and very playful with his toys. And now hes trying to speak. Coy words that we say to him. And only now he starting to come out of his cage. But he still wont let us pet him orhold him . So any one got any feed back for us. Thank you all for letting me vent. But we love him and we dont want anything to happen to him .

Norma jean
Rhynna

i have 2 parakeets, and there leg band numbers are numbers, and ive looked up it for hours. all the websites i go to say its letters… what do i do? there numbers are 8437-22B and 1137-22B

Rhynna

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published