Competencies for certification for Level 2 and Level 3 banding and mist-netting.

Levels of certification

Level 2 

A Level 2 Banding Certificate is a conditional certification which recognises the bander as being sufficiently competent to work alone but requiring more practice and wider experience before being ready to operate entirely independently or being ready to train others. The Level 2 bander remains under the absolute authority of a Level 3 bander. The same rules apply for mist-netting certification.

Level 3

Level 3 banders may train Level 1 banders and supervise Level 2 banders. Bands may be issued only to Level 3 banders. Level 3 banders are responsible for all bands issued to them. This includes submitting their banding schedules annually. Level 3 mist-netters may train Level 1 mist-netters and supervise Level 2 mist-netters. 

Certified Level 2 or Level 3 banders may be restricted in terms of the species they can band and/or the capture methods that they may use.

Competencies: Part A

The following competencies and knowledge are required for all Level 2 and Level 3 Banders and Mist-netters.

Birds and the law

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the Wildlife Act and Wildlife Regulations as they apply to bird banding.

Health and safety

  • Demonstrate a responsible attitude to physical hazards in the banding area.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of legal requirements (Health and Safety in Employment Act) and risk assessment: eliminate, isolate, minimise.
  • Demonstrate a responsible attitude towards potential injuries to the bander from birds, an appreciation of the risk of disease transmission to the bander and between birds.

Public relations

  • Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively with landowners.
  • Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively with the public about banding in general.
  • Demonstrate ability to gain co-operation with banding activities from members of the public.
  • Demonstrate ability to communicate effectively with ‘officials’ (eg, police).
  • Convey a good image of banders and banding to the general public.

Processing and banding


  • Recognise species common in home region both in the field and in the hand
  • Correctly identify the different parts and feather tracts using standard terminology
  • Use appropriate guides for identification (eg, Heather and Robertson, The field guide to the birds of New Zealand


  • Explain the effects of handling time on birds
  • Recognise the state of health of a bird
    • chilled
    • stressed
    • cramp for waders
  • Use the ‘bander’s grip’:
    • to hold a bird
    • to examine a bird
    • to take biometrics
  • Safely put a bird into and remove a bird from a bag
  • Release a small bird by using the hand as a takeoff pad
  • Transfer bird from hand to hand
  • Explain the effects of conditions affecting some birds (eg, leg cramp in waders, stress in parakeets and cirl bunting)

Banding a bird

  • Use the Bird Bander’s Manual to choose the correct band size and check tarsus diameter if necessary with calipers
  • Fit and butt a band correctly
    • with large and small pliers
    • with bands of different metals
  • Identify when to correct a band
  • Use pliers to correct spiralling
  • Use circlip pliers/fine pointed pliers
    • remove a band
    • correct a band
  • Recognise when to replace a worn band
  • Recognise when to safely use a different band size because of the size of a bird’s leg
  • Test each band for complete closure and its ability to slide on the bird’s leg
  • Correctly fit a colour band to study species 

Storing birds

  • Use the appropriate method of storage for a particular species
  • Know which species and what numbers may be safely held together in one bag/keeping cage
  • Choose size of bird bag appropriate for the species
  • Tie bird bags correctly
  • Identify appropriate substrate for keeping cages [waders, waterfowl]
  • Treat birds appropriately when wet and/or chilled
  • Clearly differentiate between empty bags from occupied bags
  • Judge when bird bags need cleaning/washing

Banding pulli

Note: this is an endorsement in addition to banding certification

  • Approach nests safely and in so doing cause the least possible disturbance to surrounding vegetation
  • Determine age of chicks and know appropriate age for banding
  • Handle small, delicate pulli and eggs without causing damage
  • Explain the effects of handling time on young birds
  • Judge suitable size and age at which to band pulli
  • Test each band for complete closure and its ability to slide on the bird’s leg


Note: this is an endorsement in addition to banding certification

Choosing a site

  • Choose net sites in relation to:
    • distance from banding station
    • number of people available
    • potential disturbance
  • Show due care and consideration at breeding sites
  • Choose appropriate size and type of net for space available

Setting nets

  • Select appropriate equipment to erect given number of mist-nets
  • Erect a mist-net alone:
    • judging correct amount of tension
    • setting appropriate amount of pocket (with or without furling pole)
    • setting height of bottom pocket correctly for conditions
  • Use mist-nets in these circumstances:
    • in darkness ensuring net is empty and clear before putting away
    • erecting a net in darkness
    • deciding number of nets to erect in relation to weather, assessing possible damage to habitat, likely size of catch, number of banders, bird storage facilities available, time needed to get round nets, public pressure, etc.  Understanding how decisions will vary between working at an ordinary banding site, at roost sites (eg, sparrows), in tidal/wet areas, at baited site, with tape lure, etc.

Putting mist-nets away

  • Ensure all mist-netting equipment has been collected and accounted for
  • Show that you know the correct cleaning for equipment to prevent disease transmission between mist-netting occasions
  • Ensure equipment is properly stored after cleaning


  • Extract birds according to principles in the Bird Bander’s Manual
  • Show an intelligent approach to extracting birds
  • Extract the following:
    • species with strong claws (eg, starling, bellbird, tui)
    • species with long tibia (eg, blackbird)
    • species with weak tibia (eg, grey warbler)
  • Extract birds from the following special circumstances:
    • tongue caught
    • carpal caught
    • both carpals caught
    • spun bird
    • spun and double pocketed
    • over top of top-shelf string
    • round the end of the net

Competencies: Part B

The following competencies and knowledge are compulsory for all Level 3 Banders and Mist-netters

For more details of each skill see the NZNBBS Bird Bander’s Manual.

Processing and banding


  • Accurately number primaries, secondaries, tertials, and tail feathers in a variety of species 


  • Put a bird in and remove from weighing cones/containers of different sizes
  • Transfer bird from and to hand
  • Hold a bird by gripping the tibio-tarsus
  • Blow feathers to examine skin:
    • for fat scoring
    • brood patch examination
    • examining the cloaca
    • checking moult
  • Handle these species or close equivalent – for L3: Passerines
    • Grey Warbler
    • Silvereye
    • House sparrow
    • Blackbird
    • Bellbird/tui
    • [Parakeet if applicant proposes to capture these, or they are likely to be present in the area]

Biometrics if required by a research project

  • Use and read to correct degree of accuracy:
    • wing rule (stopped)
    • ruler unstopped
    • Pesola/salter/electronic balance
    • Vernier/dial/digital calipers
  • Measure accurately:
    • wing length (maximum chord)
    • head + bill
    • bill to skull
    • bill to feathering
    • bill depth
    • tarsus
    • tarsus + toe
    • tail
  • Reliably ascribe fat scores

Recording in the field

  • Accurately record banding activities, e.g., place, date, time, habitat, biometrics, bander.
  • Read correctly and record accurately the band numbers
  • Write clearly and legibly
  • Use standard age and sex terminology and symbols
  • Ensure that records are kept clean and dry
  • Recognise when information is not recorded and ask for it
  • Organise processing team to enable accurate recording
  • Ensure double-checking of band numbers
  • Recognise and avoid recording spurious accuracy
  • Record full band number at each change of band series 

Mist netting

Note: this is an endorsement in addition to banding certification

Choosing a site

  • Select a suitable net site in relation to:
    • background
    • vegetation height
    • sunlight
    • possible flight paths
    • animals
    • public access

Setting nets

  • Select appropriate equipment to erect given number of mist-nets
  • Erect a mist-net alone:
    • choosing or creating secure anchor points for guys
    • tying knots tightly
    • correctly judging guy angles
    • putting loops on pole in correct order
    • walking out net without dropping or snagging it
    • untwisting/untangling netting
    • setting two nets on one pole correctly
  • Use mist-nets in these circumstances:
    • correctly furling a net (temporary)
    • correctly furling a net (for prolonged period)
    • unfurling a net and reset
    • erecting a net in darkness

Putting mist-nets away

  • Take net down, gather it up and put it in a bag so it is easy to walk it out next time
  • Tie up guy cords neatly
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