US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published in Wildlife Leaflet BS-145 (1939) 5 p.


Birdbanding, by means of numbered bands, provides a method of studying living birds of all kinds. Scientific banding dates back to 1899, when a Danish schoolmaster, H. Chr. C. Mortensen, commenced systematically to band storks, teals, starlings, and two or three species of birds of prey. His success at once attracted the attention of European ornithologists, and it was not long before the birdbanding work came into prominence. At the present time banding is being actively conducted in North America as well as in England, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Iceland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Hungary, Bulgaria, India, Morocco, and Japan.

In America, the possibilities of the method were first brought to the attention of ornithologists by Dr. Leon J. Cole in 1902, and after the prosecution of a few more or less individual projects and one or two more ambitious attempts, the American Bird Banding Association was organized in December 1909. This organization, with the aid of a few enthusiastic workers and the Linnaean Society of New York, continued to develop the work until 1920, when, having outgrown the resources available, it was taken over by the Biological Survey.