Bird Band – Duck Band – Goose Band

March 24, 2009 by  

By PJ Maguire

The author showing off one of his duck leg bands taken on duck opener in 2004.

The author showing off one of his duck leg bands taken on duck opener in 2004.

Every year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service and agencies ran by the states, place leg bands on a variety of birds across the country. Migratory birds, like ducks, geese, and most recently doves are some of the most commonly banded birds. Harvesting a bird sporting a leg band is a special joy for waterfowl hunters.

After harvesting a banded bird, many waterfowl hunters place the band on their call lanyards. “It’s like earning a buckeye sticker and putting it on your football helmet. It’s a badge of honor.” Explained Lyle Sinner, an avid waterfowl hunter and Fargo, ND native.

Traditionally one must harvest a lot of ducks and geese before shooting a banded bird. Therefore, it is assumed that if a waterfowl hunter has a lot of bands, he or she has shot a lot of birds. But most of the guys with lanyards full of bands on television will probably tell you they hunted them near banding sites. Some inside information will definately up your odds. Some people can hunt their entire life and never shoot a bird that is banded. Other waterfowl hunters have harvested dozens of banded birds. It all depends on where you hunt and how many birds get banded in your area. However, you could potentially shoot a banded bird anytime, in any location.

The chance at taking goose leg bands in ND is quite low.

The chance at taking goose leg bands in ND is quite low.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service uses data reported from leg bands to track the flight paths of migratory birds. Bands are also useful in determining harvest information and life span of specific bird species. A few years ago I witnessed my buddy take a banded drake mallard that turned out to be 12 years old. The mallard was banded in North Dakota about 50 miles from where it was shot. Some of the same ducks from the area have been reported in most U.S. states and even countries as far away as Russia.

Each band has a unique number that identifies the species of bird which is tied to the life history. When you call in a band number, an operator will ask you a few simple questions like the date and location of where the bird was harvested. You will receive a certificate in the mail containing your name and information on the banded bird.

For most waterfowlers, checking for duck bands is the first thing on their mind when picking up a bird.

For most waterfowlers, checking for duck bands is the first thing on their mind when picking up a bird.

Along with regular bands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service puts ‘reward bands’ on some birds. Usually they put these leg bands on adult birds. Reward bands are typically worth any where from 25 to 100 dollars. The government sends you a check only after you report the information regarding the band. Getting paid to hunt, that would be a nice bonus for anyone.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service are not the only ones that band birds. Some hunt clubs put leg bands on birds they release. Pheasants Forever, an organization for the preservation of pheasants, sometimes bands pheasants that they release.

One of the rarer forms of waterfowl bands are Jack Miner bands. These bands, banded by the Miner family in Ontario, have unique bible verses engraved into the band. Jack Miner bands are sacred to most waterfowl hunters, and sadly to some they just have a price tag for Ebay.

Nicknames for leg bands are a common place among my friends. They are often referred to as: jewelry, bling-bling, shine, hardware or leg irons. We refer to hunters who shoot a lot of banded birds as having “the force.”

Roughly 3.1 million leg bands have been reported to date. That is pretty small considering that since 1904 about 58 million birds have been banded in North America. Both of these numbers represent hundreds of different species of birds.

Across the nation hunters shoot banded birds every year, in just about every location. They make the hunt just a little bit more memorable and leave the hunter with a little souvenir. The first thing I do when I retrieve a harvested bird is check for a band. I encourage you to do the same. Band information should be reported to 1-800-327-BAND.


36 Comments on "Bird Band – Duck Band – Goose Band"

  1. robert on Wed, 18th Nov 2009 1:51 pm 

    I have 2 geese in AZ neck bands White C88 & C51 where did they come from? I give up! cant find a site that will tell me!

  2. admin on Wed, 18th Nov 2009 3:45 pm 

    Was there not leg bands accompanying the neck collars? If so, those numbers you need to report to receive information.


  3. Shack on Sat, 28th Nov 2009 10:08 am 

    I have a mallard that was shot this season in Michigan it has a leg band with only 3 digits…it is not worn and there are no other markings. Can anyone help me in reporting this band?

  4. zach chittenden on Tue, 29th Dec 2009 10:56 pm 

    I would assume that the other numbers are worn off and its just hard to tell….if you send it to laurel md, sometimes they can etch the band and find the rest of the numbers or it could be a jack miner band with a worn off saying and a number or 2…..good luck

  5. Mike on Sat, 20th Mar 2010 2:39 pm 

    Iam wondering if the leg band on the left or right determines the sex of a goose?

  6. Ohio on Mon, 26th Apr 2010 8:10 pm 

    I was given another number to call 301-497-5969

  7. Ryan on Mon, 10th May 2010 6:54 pm 

    I shot my first duck, Dec. 10 and it was banded. What are the odds of that? plus, in the same day i shot my first buck and got a letter from the president. for real though, someone needs to figure out the odds of your first bird ever shot at being banded.

  8. Beth Ann Schwarz on Sun, 23rd May 2010 11:25 am 

    I just saw a goose with a yellow neck band with TJ66 on it. She had a mate and 10 goslings. She was in the Mt. Olivet cemetery in Salt Lake City, UT. Where is she from?

  9. Dillon Anderson on Fri, 9th Jul 2010 1:19 pm 

    my name is dillon im 10 years old and iv been duckhunting since i was 8 and iv never got a band and iv alaways wanted one and my dream is when i get older i want my wole lanyard to be silver

  10. William on Fri, 9th Jul 2010 1:27 pm 

    Life is like a flock of geese where ever they may go will take you to your next shot.

  11. Bear Minnick on Fri, 24th Sep 2010 4:42 pm 

    Can you give me a list of what color of band is used in each state I live at a lake and would like to know how far these geese come from. Thanks Bear

  12. Erica on Sat, 16th Oct 2010 11:38 am 

    I am looking to band our pet mallards and cannot find a place to buy the bands. Any ideas as to where I can get some?? I dont need them by the hundreds maybe a dozen but thats about all I need. Thanks

  13. Richard B. on Sun, 17th Oct 2010 7:20 pm 

    I have harvested numerous ducks and geese with bands, but today, I got my first Jack Miner band on a Mallard Drake. I never knew about Jack Miner, but it’s a great story, and I feel honored to get my message from God!

  14. shane on Mon, 25th Oct 2010 11:20 am 

    i shout a goose with two band the first one right leg metal band on yhe left leg there was a yellow band with the letters UFO in black letterts can anyone tell me what this means

  15. Duck Boy 1996 on Mon, 1st Nov 2010 7:17 pm 

    I have shot one duck with a band in 2009 i was so exited im hopeing 2010 will be another year i will have a duck with a band..

  16. Ron Jaime on Fri, 10th Dec 2010 2:10 am 

    I shot a triple on honkers last year. and wouldnt u know it the last one was banded. Now i want another one bad. what a obsession!

  17. kyle O on Tue, 14th Dec 2010 1:57 pm 

    my buddy and i jump shot a farm pond today i killed one duck and it was double banded with a 100reward on it

  18. Dave Ford on Wed, 22nd Dec 2010 2:34 pm 

    I have shot two banded geese. Of the two, (1) of them was double banded. The second one was shot yesterday and I am waiting on the bird info to come in the mail. I have been waterfowling for 5 years. My son has shot one double banded goose. It was his first time waterfowl hunting. Its great!!!!

  19. mark lancaster on Sat, 15th Jan 2011 6:41 pm 

    I shot a brant today with my six year old daughter and it was double banded,she is the same age as my son was when i got my first band and it was in the same week…….

  20. Donny Hicks on Tue, 1st Feb 2011 10:31 pm 

    I have been hunting for 12 years and I have harvested 4 banded geese and 4 banded ducks. I harvested 2 banded ducks this year, but the best was on Dec.31 2003 I harvested a Aleutian cackling goose that had a neck band, an advise leg band, and a leg tarsus. A triple banded goose. It was banded on the island of Buldir in the Aleutian Ilands, Alaska.

  21. austin on Fri, 25th Feb 2011 10:18 pm 

    i was at summer lake oregon when i got my first band it was on a gadwall then about three weeks later i found a dead banded wood duck under my tree that red tail hawk got ya so i have 2 banded ducks now

  22. Nate on Thu, 3rd Mar 2011 7:44 pm 

    My 1st two ducks where banded a mallard and a teal i didn’t realize how lucky i was till years later. I’d say thats some luck right their

  23. Tysen on Wed, 8th Jun 2011 10:42 pm 

    i was wondering if u can call in a banded goose if u havent harvested it i have two geese with bands at our local duck pond in battle mtn nv and i was wondering if it would help to report them as they have seemed to make there home there recently and dont seem on planning to go anywhere anytime soon becuause they have 6 little ones running around with them now any help would great thanks

  24. admin on Thu, 9th Jun 2011 8:19 am 

    Yes you can.

  25. Tysen on Fri, 10th Jun 2011 11:48 pm 

    cool how would i do it? just call in and tell them?

  26. Lori Hopkins on Tue, 25th Oct 2011 5:49 pm 

    My husband and i were goose hunting this weekend and he shot his first banded goose we called the number in and found it was banded in Nunavut it also had a small peircing through the web the lady at the gov office had no idea what it was has on it FF11 or FF14 can any one tell us what it is

  27. Jason Carrico on Sat, 19th Nov 2011 11:51 pm 

    Hey I shot a double banded Canadian goose yesterday. a normal avise band on one leg and a yellow band with nothing on the other leg. I was told it was banded in Utah. Wondering what the yellow band means. I am quessing that the lettering wore off. Pleas let me know what you all think. Thanks

  28. Kris Shaw on Tue, 13th Dec 2011 12:27 pm 

    I have searched high and low for over a year now trying to find someone who makes replicas of bands. I killed a drake mallard that was banded and got it mounted. I want one to go an my lanyard that is an exact match if anyone could steer me in any direction to make this happen it would be greatly appericated.

  29. Dan on Tue, 20th Dec 2011 10:15 pm 

    I shot a double banded mallard drake today with a $100 reward band as well and would love to have a replica band made so I could have them on my lanyard with the originals being on the mount. If anyone knows where to get authentic looking replica bands made, any information would be great. Thanks!

  30. Jeremiah on Wed, 28th Dec 2011 4:36 pm 

    I just started duck hunting 2 weeks ago! I love it! Shot my 1st duck last week and 2 geese this week so far! What an obsession! Hopefully I can join the ranks of the “banded brothers” One day? Happy hunting to all!

  31. rick on Wed, 11th Jan 2012 8:25 pm 

    been hunting for 5 years and finally killed my first banded bird. it was a drake mallard and it so happens he came in with a hen , it was just the 2 of them and now there going on the wall……

  32. william falkenstern on Wed, 11th Apr 2012 2:26 am 

    Has anyone ever seen a bird band with a rivit

  33. Hayden on Mon, 12th Nov 2012 8:22 pm 

    Hi I am from Louisiana im 14 and have been duck hunting with my stepdad 4 years now and still havent killed a banded duck. My friend has killed alot of banded ducks and I still havent killed one! I am so anxious too kill one! I hope I kill one this season!

  34. Saxon Ross on Sun, 1st Dec 2013 10:30 pm 

    I shot a goose the other day and it had a ring like band with six blank squares on it anyone know what it is?

  35. grant on Sat, 13th Dec 2014 2:24 am 

    I am 14 and have shot one white fronted goose and one red head bot were banded plus this last season i shot a banded pheasent

  36. Patricia Thacker on Wed, 22nd Jul 2015 4:54 pm 

    I was at our local park in Chillicothe, OH which has a lake and there was a (goose) with a neck band that said, “6KOM” . Does anyone know what this means? I have a picture of it

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.