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.
Banding dates are subject to change. Stations must close for high winds, heavy precipitation or other inclement weather.
Colorado Banding Stations:
Barr Lake Banding Station (Fall 2014: Aug. 30 - Oct. 11, closed Sundays and Mondays and Sept. 3)
Fort Collins Banding Station (Fall 2014: Sept. 16 - Oct. 11, closed Sundays and Mondays, station will move to Nix Farm Natural Area on Sept. 27 for NoCo Natural Festival; and late April - May)
Chico Banding Station (Fall 2014: Sept. 4 - Oct. 4; and April - May)
Ela Wildlife Sanctuary Banding Station (Fall 2014: Sept. 18 - Oct. 17, closed weekends except public day Oct. 4)
Ridgway Banding Station (Fall 2014: Sept. 6-16)
Chatfield Banding Station (April - May)
Nebraska Banding Stations:
Chadron Banding Station (Fall 2014: Sept. 2 - Oct. 3, public day Aug. 30)
Wildcat Hills Banding Station (Fall 2014: Sept. 2 - Oct. 3, public day Sept. 13)
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