Raptor Banding

Golden Gate Raptor Observatory


GGRO bander Ari La Porte examines a Sharp-shinned Hawk

2020 Banding Program Update

It is with great sadness we announce that the GGRO banding program has been suspended for 2020. This decision was made at different levels, from both our Parks Conservancy and NPS teams.

We want to emphasize that this is not the end of the Banding Program, but a temporary single-season suspension to give us time to evaluate and strengthen GGRO’s long-term migration study for seasons to come. The decision to suspend banding for 2020 was a very tough one, but it is in no way a diminishment of GGRO Bander contributions of hours, time, money, and commitment to the GGNRA and to the Parks Conservancy over many years. This decision has been motivated by wanting to use our limited 2020 resources toward a reactivation of banding in 2021 and beyond, to keep all of GGRO moving forward into the future.


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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