Plastic color bands can be used as auxiliary markers to aid in identifying individual birds. Please refer to USGS Bird Banding Lab's info page if you need more information about the use of auxiliary markers here.
We offer Darvic, Celluloid, and Acetal color bands to suit your research need. Darvic is the trade name for unplasticized PVC, dyed with colorfast dyes and is UV resistant. Celluloid bands are a thermoplastic band type that have limited availability, as much of the sheet material required to make the bands is disappearing. Acetal bands are a type of acetate band that are molded on to a small card or stick, off of which individual bands are snapped off for use.
Please note that we do not recommend using color bands on bats. If placed on their forearm, the edges of color bands can tear the wing membrane and cause injuries.
DISCLAIMER: Color bands are manufactured for application to captive and wild birds. However, as much as we wish, they are not high-tech pieces of equipment. The color of color bands may fade or shift over time given exposure to UV and the climate. Color bands may open and lose shape if kept in hot conditions such as a banding kit left in the sun or inside vehicles. Color bands can also become brittle or crack if stored for long periods in plastic containers. While color bands are extremely useful, we ask that researchers consider the limitations of this product.
What is the difference between celluloid and Darvic color bands?
The big advantage of celluloid bands is they can be sealed with acetone easily. They also hold their “memory” a bit better than Darvic.
Darvic is the trade name for unplasticized PVC, a UV resistant plastic. It is fade resistant and performs well in a variety of conditions.
Can I seal Darvic color bands?
Yes, Darvic bands can be sealed. The only way that Darvic bands can be sealed is using heat to melt the plastic. One method is to use a small soldering iron, please see this PDF article by Robert J. Meese, titled An Efficient and Effective Method for Sealing Darvic Color Bands. Used with permission.
The other tool that we have tested is a small thread burner used in crafting applications. It has a very fine tipped battery-powered heating element that can be used to accurately melt Darvic bands. The tool is available here.
Below is a sizing chart so you can find the best fit for your target bird according to their typical US band size. These are suggestions only, so if you are unsure of what will fit, it's best to purchase a stick of two sizes and see what fits best or ask a colleague. Generally, we suggest sizing up if you're unsure, but you also do not want a loose band falling over a metal band or a too-tight band causing irritation. There are outliers that we have found, for example, Red-cockaded woodpeckers get a size 1A (3.18mm) US band, and always have a size XB (4mm) color band. However, Grey catbirds wear the same size US band as RCWO and can generally wear a size XCL (3.1mm) band.
Suggested Sizing Chart
|BBL Band Size
||Corresponding Marker Size
||XF = 2.3mm
||XCS = 2.8mm
|1P (Snowy Plover)
||XCL = 3.1mm
||XCL = 3.1mm OR XB = 4mm
||XB = 4mm
||XB = 4mm or X3 = 4.5mm
||X3 = 4.5mm
||1FB = 5.5mm
||1FB = 5.5mm
||2FB=6.4mm or 3FB = 8mm
||3FB = 8mm
||3FB = 8mm
||4FB = 9.5mm
||4FB = 9.5mm or 5FB = 11mm
||5FB=11mm or 6FB=12.7mm