How to Find the Correct Leg Band Size for your Bird

Did you know, National Band & Tag manufactures leg bands ranging in size from a hummingbird to a swan? With so many leg band sizes to choose from, it may be confusing to find the correct size for your species of bird.

There are two different options for finding out which leg band size you should order:

Option 1: Find the diameter of your bird’s leg. The easiest way to do this is to use a piece of string. You might want to have one person hold the bird, while another holds the string and measures.

  • Step 1: Place the tip of a string onto the bird’s leg where the band is going to sit. Wrap the string around the leg until the string reaches the tip on the end of the string you are holding in place.
  • Step 2: Mark the point where the string touches the tip with a marker.
  • Step 3: Stretch the string out across the length of the ruler and then locate the mark on the string. Read the measurement on the ruler. This tells you the circumference of the bird’s leg.
  • Step 4: Divide your circumference measurement by 3.14. (Example: a circumference of 34.54 mm / 3.14 = a diameter of 11 mm)

Option 2: Check for your species on the USGS’s Recommended Band Size chart. This is a guideline, and NB&T is not responsible for incorrect size bands being ordered based on this chart. While the USGS’s list is reliable for most standard birds, your bird could be slightly different. For example, wild mallards usually wear a size 14 band, but farm-raised mallards tend to be a little fatter and may need to go up to a size 16 band.

find your perfect size leg band for birds

Next Steps:

Now that you know the diameter of your bird’s leg, you can view our bird bands and find the band that correlates with your diameter. From our example in option 1, if the diameter is 11 mm, then our size 14 at 11.13 mm would be the best option. It’s ok for the band to be slightly bigger. You don’t want the band to be too tight, otherwise, it can cause damage to the leg. When ordering your leg bands, don’t forget that each size band needs its matching applicator to properly seal it. If you are ordering multiple sizes of bands, you will also need multiple applicators.

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