bird banding

Bird banding. How to ring your birds correctly.

What is bird banding? Bird banding or bird ringing is the process of pulling closed rings or attaching split rings on the birds’ legs. This article will write about bird ringing with closed rings for small cage birds. Also, you will find information on how to pull a close ring on a bird’s leg, at what age can the chicks be rung, what size ring to use based on the bird’s breed, ring size chart, etc.

Birds without a ring have considerably less value. The breeder who does not ring his birds with his own rings may not participate in exhibitions and competitions.

You can order custom rings with your initials or names on them at

Beginner breeders often blame it on the lack of experience. Because they are afraid of breaking nestling legs or causing other injuries to the youngsters, do not have the courage to start bird ringing.

Rings must be ordered in advance for each breeding year. They must correspond in size and dimension to the standard set for the species we wish to ring.

The rings

The rings are mainly made of aluminum and should be ordered in advance for each breeding year. They have different sizes and are suitable for different species of birds. The rings are often colored with non-toxic translucent paint.

As mentioned above, the rings are of two types:

  1. closed rings
  2. open rings or split rings

The closed ones are carefully inserted on the feet of the birds, while the open rings are attached to their feet with the help of a special tool, similar to pliers, thus taking the shape of a ring.

Bird ringing is done for two purposes:

  1. To prove that the birds were bred in captivity and were not taken from the natural environment and sold as pets
  2. To identify their age and origin.

In addition to the species to which they belong, the following data can be entered on the rings:

  • identification code of the country of origin
  • breeder identification code
  • registration code of the copy and year of birth consisting of the last two digits of that year.

Without this information, young birds will be used as breeders but without any control, will be exposed to inbreeding.

At what age can the chick be rung.

These closed rings can be pulled on the legs of the chicks at the age of 5-7 days, when the legs are still small and allow it without any danger of injury.

Putting the rings early can result in the loss of the ring which the mother bird is pulling out to save the baby from that object. The mother in such cases removes the ring from the nest and even from the cage, producing extra work for the breeder: the search for the lost ring and the repetition of the ring of how many times it is necessary!

If the breeder does not discover the loss of the ring in advance, then there is a risk of not being able to ring the chick at all which in a few days will grow. Such birds can be ringed with split open rings, but this decreases the value of the bird.

How to pull a closed ring on a bird’s leg.

On this occasion, the nest is isolated from the mother by removing it from the nesting cage. The breeder pulls the chicks out of the nest by gently catching them between his fingers, places the chick in the palm of his left hand on his belly. If it was seated on his back, the chick would make movements, kicking back, making it impossible to ring. But on its belly will sit still.

siskin nest
siskin chick

The breeder will place the chick’s foot between the thumb and index finger of the left hand in such a way that the 3 claws of the birds’ feet join together.

Rings to be prepared with the writing backward, down, overturned.

what is bird banding
what is bird ringing

The breeder grabs a ring with his right hand, holding it between the index finger and the thumb. Now the front 3 claws will be inserted through the ring.

Canary rings
Finch rings

When the tips of the claws came out the other side of the ring, they must be caught with your fingers so that the ring won’t fall off nor the chick will pull the leg back out from the ring.

pull closed ring

At this stage, your left hand becomes free whose fingers can be used for pulling, by gently sliding the ring above, on the foot of the chick.

How to ring goldfinches
How to ring greenfinches
Ringing baby birds
how to ring canaries

If the back claw of the chicken is squeezed under the ring being longer, this can be released by gently pulling it out with the right hand.

Now all the claws are free and the ring remains on the foot of the bird so that it cannot pass through four claws, especially when they are in the normal position.

bird ringing
bird banding

The parents are feeding the chick but also cleaning the nest. They could easily see the ring and try to remove it from the nest. It is advisable to cover the rings with any material that has the same color as the chick’s leg. This will reduce the risk that the mother will see the ring and try to remove it from the nest. She could also throw the chicks out of the nest, so keep checking the chicks for a day or two after ringing.

What size ring to use based on bird’s breed?

Different bird breeds have different sizes and different leg thicknesses. For this reason, we have to pay close attention when ordering the rings. If the ring is too small then, it will cause damage to the bird’s leg when is fully grown. If the ring is too large then it could come off the bird’s leg.

In order to help with choosing the right size ring for your birds see the chart below for some examples of ring sizes for most common cage birds. More details can be found at AvianID.

Bird ring size chart – Bird banding table

Ring CodeRing SizeSpecies
A2.40 mmFinch Gold-breasted, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Red-eared Waxbill,
Gold-breasted Waxbill, Owl Finch, Wren
B2.60 mmFire Finch, Lavender Finch, Chinese Bulbul, Siskin, Redpoll – Common/Lesser, Twite,
Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit
C2.70 mmAmerican Goldfinch, European Goldfinch, Finch African Firefinch, Finch Gouldian, Linnet,
Venezuelan Red Hooded Siskin, Chaffinch, Mealy Redpoll, Reed Bunting
D2.90 mmEuropean Bullfinch, Yellow Hammer, Bramble Finch, Siberian Goldfinch
E3.10 mmBelgian Fancy Canary, Fife Canary (Wegen), Gloster Canary (Consort), Gloster Canary (Corona),
Finch Bengalese (or Society), Finch Diamond Firetail, Greenfinch, Siberian Bullfinch
G3.30 mmRed Factor Canary, Timbrado Canary, Satinettes Canary, Dimorphic Canary
J3.50 mmNorwich Canary, Yorkshire Canary, Raza Canary, Pekin Robin, Crossbill Finch

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4 thoughts on “Bird banding. How to ring your birds correctly.”

  1. Pingback: Fledgling birds. How to wean birds. | Bird Room Guide

  2. Pingback: Breeding Bullfinches | Bullfinch Care | Bird Room Guide

  3. I have 4 finches in one large cage. Now I have eggs. Do I remove the other finches while eggs are hatching.

    1. Birdroomguide

      It depends what finches you have in the aviary.
      For example, goldfinches it would be recommended to remove the male until the chicks are about 10 days old.

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