"Band Identification"

Today it is common to “band” birds, either as part of an ecological study or to indicate its home roost. A metal band with identifying information is secured to the bird's leg. Homing or racing pigeons wearing such pigeon tags are likely registered with AU Pigeon or another pigeon club.

Despite their navigational talents, sometimes a pigeon does get lost. Since they use the sun to help them find their way home, under certain conditions, such as when kept under artificial light, they can become confused. If you come across a lost pigeon, the numbers on the band will identify the bird and help you find its owner. While it is in your care, you should place it in a dry box with a bowl of water while you look up its number on the internet and contact its owner. You can also offer it some bird seed or raw grains such as rice or corn. After 24 to 48 hours most uninjured birds should be able to head home on their own.

The numbers on the bands on homing pigeons that can help you find the owner. To make pigeon band identification easy, each band has a sequence of letters. In most cases, the first indicate the organization that the bird is registered to, followed by a number that is unique to the bird, followed by the letters that identify the actual club and finally the year the pigeon hatched, though sometimes the hatching date and bird ID number are reversed. The following letters indicate which pigeon tags were issued by which club:

AU: American Racing Pigeon Union

IF: International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers

CU: Canadian Racing Pigeon Union

NPA: National Pigeon Association

In some cases, instead of a code, the band may list the owner’s name, address and/or phone number so that you can contact them directly.