Bird banding has been used to study wild birds since the late 1800s. Data obtained at banding stations has greatly increased understanding of bird migration and anatomy.
Banding stations are placed in sites where birds congregate in large numbers during migration. These stopovers generally have excellent habitat that offers food and a safe place to rest. Scientists set up a series of mist nets to harmlessly trap birds. When a bird is removed from the net, its leg is fitted with a small metal band, and it is weighed and measured to evaluate its condition. Each band has a unique number on it so that if the bird is recaptured or found later, scientists will know when and where it was banded.
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory conducts banding at three stations each spring in Colorado and seven stations each fall in Colorado and Nebraska. Over the past 20 years, RMBO has banded more than 77,000 birds.
Banding stations also serve as outdoor classrooms to enhance the public's appreciation of our feathered friends. The stations provide valuable opportunities for volunteers and students to gain experience in scientific field techniques. Teachers and group leaders can arrange a visit for groups of students (see details under each station below), and individual visitors are welcome.
Colorado Banding Stations:
Fort Collins Banding Station (Spring 2014: Tues. - Sat., April 22 - May 10, with special public day May 10 during the Poudre RiverFest; and September - early October)
Chatfield Banding Station (Spring 2014: April 26 - June 1, closed May 2-3)
Chico Banding Station (Spring 2014: April 23 - May 24; and September)
Barr Lake Banding Station (September - mid-October)
Ela Wildlife Sanctuary Banding Station (September - mid-October)
Ridgway Banding Station (September)
Nebraska Banding Stations:
Chadron Banding Station (September - early October)
Wildcat Hills Banding Station (September - early October)
Visit our Nebraska Education Programs page for more information on Nebraska banding stations.
Colorado Banding Stations Contact:
School Programs Coordinator
303-659-4348 ext. 11
Nebraska Banding Stations Contact:
Nebraska Education Coordinator
Chipping Sparrow up close; photo by Anne James
Schoolchildren releasing a bird at Barr Lake