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[Monthly Meeting] The United States Bird Banding Program

  • College Park Airport Operations Building 1909 Corporal Frank Scott Drive College Park, MD, 20740 United States (map)


The Bird Banding Laboratory was established in 1920 to coordinate bird banding activities across the United States and its Territories. Bird banding has been widely practiced in the United States since the 1950s and has evolved into a program of approximately 1700 master banders and 5000 subpermittees who band more than one million birds annually. While bird banding was originally a practice where birds were marked with numbered metal bands to gain knowledge about the movement patterns of birds after banded birds were recovered and band numbers reported, in recent decades, technological advances have greatly expanded our ability to track bird movements. Satellite transmitters, geolocators, and other devices now allow for more detailed tracking of the movements of individual birds and provide remarkable insights into migratory behaviors that we never could have imagined. Because birds are good indicators of the health of the environment, the status and trends of bird populations are critical for identifying and understanding many ecological issues and for developing effective science, management and conservation practices. This presentation provides a history of the bird banding program in the United States and its contributions towards advancing the scientific understanding of bird migration and other aspects of avian ecology.

About the lecturer

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Bruce Peterjohn moved to Maryland in 1991 to become coordinator for the Breeding Bird Survey for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After serving in that position for nearly 8 years, he worked as a wildlife biologist on various bird population monitoring projects at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. In October 2008, he was appointed Chief of the U.S. Bird Banding Laboratory, and has been responsible for the U.S. banding program for the past 11 years. When not in his office, Bruce is an active hummingbird bander with an interest in the winter hummingbirds of the Mid-Atlantic region.


PGAS monthly programs are held on the second Tuesday of each month, September through June, in partnership with the Patuxent Bird Club, a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society. There are no programs scheduled in July or August. PGAS members are encouraged to attend monthly meetings and non-members are always welcome.

The formal program always begins at 7:30 pm, but doors open at 7:00 for informal conversation, refreshments, and exchange of birding news.  Each program opens with brief statements from leaders of both clubs about upcoming events, items of interest and other club business, followed by the featured speaker with a question-and-answer period afterwards.

The programs are held at the College Park Airport Operations Building, 1909 Corporal Frank Scott Drive, College Park, MD.