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 25 years, RMBO has banded more than 100,000 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.
Banding dates are subject to change. Stations must close for high winds, heavy precipitation or other inclement weather.
Colorado Banding Stations:
Fort Collins Banding Station (Spring 2015: April 29-30, May 5-9 and May 30 for Poudre RiverFest (banding on May 30 will be at Legacy Park; and September to early October)
Chico Banding Station (Spring 2015: April 23 - May 23; and September to early October)
Chatfield Banding Station (Spring 2015: April 25 - May 31, closed May 8-9)
Barr Lake Banding Station (September to mid-October)
Ela Wildlife Sanctuary Banding Station (September to early October)
Ridgway Banding Station (September)
Nebraska Banding Stations:
Chadron Banding Station (September to early October)
Wildcat Hills Banding Station (September to 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