Specially trained volunteers sit in small blinds in the hills of the Headlands, trapping and banding raptors and taking measurements and health data. Banded hawks subsequently encountered by humans are (hopefully) reported to the US Bird Banding Laboratory by the finder, and we receive a report of where the bird was found and what the circumstances were. Banding recoveries help us answer questions about raptor movement and ranges, as well as insight into causes of raptor injuries and deaths.

Becoming a GGRO bander is a big commitment—volunteers start with a 2-year apprenticeship to learn the basic skills necessary to safely trap and band hawks. There are rigorous trainings and workdays in preparation for the migration season. Trainings occur on weeknights and weekends in July and into the beginning of August. Bander field days generally start at 7:45 am and last sometimes until the evening, depending on weather and bird activity. Volunteers must be able to commit to one regular field day every two weeks between mid-August through early December; all training is provided; banders must be 18 years or older. Volunteer activities take place in the Marin Headlands.

Because space is limited in the banding program, we recruit new banders once every two years to accomodate the training schedule (the next cycle will be in spring of 2018). If you would like to be notified when recruitment opens again, please send us a message at ggro@parksconservancy.org.

Please look out for color banded Red-tailed Hawks! GGRO has been marking Red-tailed Hawks with lavender bands (below), in addition to the traditional metal band. Each band has a 3-digit alpha-numeric code (a capital letter above a two-digit number) repeated twice around the band. If you see a color band on a hawk, please note whether it was on the bird’s right or left leg, and try to read the code on the band or get a picture (e.g., through your spotting scope or with your digital camera). We hope to increase our ability to understand where these birds go, how long they live, their survival rates, and what habitats they use by collecting information about color banded individuals.

Report sightings directly to the Bird Banding Laboratory at www.reportband.gov and call the GGRO with any questions at (415) 331-0730.

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Contact Information

(415) 331-0730