Raptor Banding

Golden Gate Raptor Observatory


GGRO bander Ari La Porte examines a Sharp-shinned Hawk

2021 Banding Program Update

With reduced staffing and budgets, GGRO staff and our Park colleagues have been working hard to ensure we conduct a COVID-safe 2021 Migration Season and continue our banding program.  

The decision to suspend banding for 2020 was a very tough one, but we are glad to be back!
We are banding with a smaller volunteer group this year that is operating in pods and using the utmost precaution to keep our staff and volunteers safe. 


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, and mandatory work days in spring and summer. Trainings occur on weeknights and weekends in July and into the beginning of August. Bander field days generally start at 7:45 am and sometimes last 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. If you would like to be notified when recruitment opens again, please send us a message at ggro@parksconservancy.org.

Found a banded bird? Report the band number directly to the Bird Banding Laboratory at www.reportband.gov. Call GGRO with any questions at (415) 426-5290.


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