What Do the Letters & Numbers Mean on a Parrot Leg Band?

"Who will help me decipher this leg band," said the little red parrot. "Not I," said the Customs man.
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Parrot leg bands identify a bird by breeder or nation of origin, and in case it has information that can help you recover your lost bird. Some leg bands inform where and when a bird was bred if it was born in the United States or the nation the bird came from if he is a legal import into the country.

Significance of Bird Banding

A parrot receives a leg band identifying him either from a breeder at birth or when he is imported into the United States and placed in U.S. quarantine. Parrot leg bands have letters followed by a space and then numbers. If a parrot accidentally flies outdoors and is lost, some bird bands hold data that can help find his owner when he is caught. Write down your parrot’s bird band information at home and have your veterinarian record it in his file when you take him for a checkup, nail cutting or wing trimming.

Open Leg Bands

Adult parrots receive open leg bands when they are imported into the United States before they are released from quarantine. A handler places an open band around a parrot's leg and pinches it closed to form a circle with a slight opening in it. The first letters are USDA. A state abbreviation follows to denote the quarantine area. Common state abbreviations include F for Florida, C or O for California, M for Michigan, I for Illinois, L for Louisiana and N for New York. The numbers following the letters are the unique bird identification number.

Closed Leg Bands

Parrot breeders slip a closed band over the foot of a parrot when it is old enough so the band will not slip off his toes. The beginning letters on a closed band are the breeder’s code, which is usually three letters. The first number following the letters is the bird’s identification number. The next two-digit number is the year in which the parrot hatched.


Never attempt to cut a parrot leg band off yourself. If your feathered friend has an open band that is catching on items and his toes, or a closed band that looks too tight, take him to your veterinarian for an assessment.

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