Years ago, after a storm, I found a dead bird with an id ring on its leg.

I wanted to find out where to report it, but before I returned with a camera to take a photo, a neighbor decided to dispose the body.

In case I ever find another one, I'd like to know how to find out what I can do.

The above incident happened in Mexico, but I'd like to have answers that aren't country specific, if possible.

4 Answers 4


It depends what kind of ring it was. If the bird was part of a scientific study then often it will have a phone number/web address to contact (depending on size of the bird). If it is a racing bird (like a racing pigeon) then it will be a club specific ring.

The type of ring alters depending on what country/geographic region it was ringing also. For example in the EU there is a coordinated database (http://www.euring.org/) to report rings. So it's hard to give general advice. Contacting your local bird conservation program will likely be able to give more specific advice for your region (a quick Google by me brought up a few potential organisations in Mexico but I don't speak Spanish very well so you're likely going to get better results)

Without wanting to repeat @Escoce's answer I think simply googling the number is a good idea. Take a note of the colour and any other makings also as these are often relevant.


Often times you can take a photo of the bird and the ID tag if you are able. With fishery tags anyway you can usually search the tag number and you'll get a list of potentials to contact.

  • So.. just search the tag number in the web? It's that simple?
    – Roflo
    Nov 13, 2015 at 19:37
  • Well with the fisheries equivalent tagging I have been able to google the tag number.
    – Escoce
    Nov 13, 2015 at 19:38

I think this is a great question! Many people dedicate tremendous amounts of time to the study of bird and animal behavior. Banding is a large part of that, and people like you who make an effort to report sightings, especially of deceased animals, contribute to important research.

You've already gotten great advice, so I don't need to repeat it. I know you asked for help that's not country specific, and my only experience has been in the United States, but maybe some of it is applicable to other parts of the world as well!

  • We have a large network of government owned parks and wildlife sanctuaries. They're at different levels, including city, state and federal. If you find the bird on such a property, contact the managing organization. They're frequently aware of ongoing studies. Even if they don't have specifics, they have long lists of contacts that may point you in the right direction. We had the great pleasure of watching banded osprey nesting in a state park in New Hampshire. The lead person on the study was there with his telescope and binoculars, educating passers-by. It was so much fun!

  • Check your local wildlife rehabilitation center. We live near a large veterinary school, which has a hospital with a section dedicated to rescue and rehabilitation of all manner of wildlife. They keep a registry of studies being conducted by organizations, groups and individual rescuers.

  • You don't need to have a photograph of the tag, or even know for sure what type of bird it is. As Liam said, take note of band color and markings you see. Position on the bird makes a difference too. I found a site from The Canadian Wildlife Service, which is written in English, French and Spanish. It features a step-by-step process by which to identify the type of tag and file the report. If you don't have a photo, or didn't get close enough to read the tag, you can still file a report based on the color of the tag and its position on the animal. There are even instructions for matching the characteristics of the bird to the most common choices in case you don't know what it was.

Thanks for caring about the birds. I hope something from our experience might have been helpful!


A bunch of years ago I got a good enough look at a Canada Goose on Plum Island in Massachusetts to read the tag number. Unfortunately I don't remember exactly where I eventually found to report it, but it was a central clearinghouse for such things, in Washington DC if I remember right. They even sent me a postcard later telling me that this particular bird was banded near where I saw it two years earlier.

If I found another bird tag today, I'd probably start by reporting it to the state Fish and Wildlife office. They may not be the right ones to eventually get the information, but I'm sure they would either take the information directly or tell me where the right place to report it is. Another possibility is to contact someone at a local Audubon Society office. Again, they may not be who ultimately needs to know, but they really should be able to refer you to the right place.

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