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Decoding The Leg Band

Find out how to read the information on your bird's leg band

By Dick Schroeder

Bird Leg Bands
The letters and numbers on your bird's leg band can help you find out where your bird originally came from.
Courtesy Jano Mladonicky, Texas

The leg bands on imported birds contain codes. There are two types of quarantine stations, privately owned and USDA-owned and -operated.

Privately Owned Stations
Private import station leg bands contain three letters followed by three numbers.

The first letter stands for:

“C” California through LAX
“O” California through LAX
“F” Florida through Miami
“I” Illinois through Chicago O’Hare
"L” Louisiana through New Orleans (now closed)
“M” Michigan through Detroit
“N” New York through JFK
“T” Texas through Brownsville.

The second letter identifies the importer and his or her facility. Many large-scale importers used more than one facility and more than one code.

The third letter is part of the bird’s individual ID code, which includes the three numbers. This arrangement allows for 26,000 combinations before a station repeats a code.

USDA-Owned and -Operated Stations
USDA-run government stations, many of which were closed sometime ago, use a different code system:

“USDAN” San Ysidro (San Diego), CA
“USDANNY” Newberg, NY
“USDAA” Los Angeles, CA
“USDH” Honolulu, HI
“USDAB” Brownsville, TX
“USDAX” Mission, TX
“USDAM” Miami, FL
“USDAL” Laredo, TX
“USDAE” El Paso, TX.

Other Leg Band Resources
Bird clubs, organizations or societies also issue leg bands.

The more common ones are:

“ABS” American Budgerigar Society
“ACS” American Cockatiel Society
“ALBS” African Lovebird Society
“ASC” American Singers Club
“IFC” International Fife Club
“NCA” National Colorbred Association
“NCS” National Cockatiel Society
“NFSS” National Finch & Softbill Society
“SPBE” Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors

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Decoding The Leg Band

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Reader Comments
Found a small Blue and white exotic looking bird by my house with yellow leg band marked 4728PB. Any thoughts on what this might be?
Lance, Boca Raton, FL
Posted: 2/22/2015 5:28:03 AM
An open band ( not solid) is seen on birds that were imported. Closed bands were put on the birds leg when they are very young and indicates that the bird was captive bred. On the closed bands the first set of letters are the initials of an organization or breeder responsible for breeding. The second set of sideways letters indicates the state where the bird was hatched. Birds can be bred anywhere but most come from warm weather states where the birds can be kept outside. The third set of numbers is determined by the breeder. For instance 035 May be the thirty fifth hatching of that breeder. If the bird came from a large breeding organization you may be able to locate them on the web and contact them for information about your bird. However due the high number of "backyard breeders" you may may be unable to locate the origin of your bird. There are some registries available on the web but they do not include all breeders. Good luck with your search!
Cheryl Nurse, International
Posted: 10/9/2014 12:25:43 AM
Hey my names Jen and I bought a bird that was previously owned at Magic Isle in Centerreach. The clerk had no info on him other than someone couldn't keep him anymore. He is a yellow face II with a green band AAAAA5720. I don't know if it's a breeder band or from a pet shop like Petco. If anyone can help me in the right direction or know this breeder or can discipher the band to find his age. It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks-Jen
Jennifer, Ronkonkoma, NY
Posted: 9/28/2014 9:40:25 PM

I adopted an Umbrella Cockatoo about a month ago. The gentleman I got him from said he was around 5 yrs old. His aluminum solid leg band says:CC SD 005
(The "SD" is sideways)his name is Otis. Can you help me?

Tim, Aberdeen, SD
Posted: 9/8/2014 10:53:39 AM
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