Baby pigeons are banded when they are 7 to 10 days old. The bands have number codes and initials on them that are used for identification purposes. The pigeon's band numbers are registered with a national pigeon organization that its owner belongs to. A band code will have the union's initials, the year the bird was banded, the owner's pigeon club code and the bird's identification serial number printed on it in that order. The union initials may be AU for the American Racing Pigeon Union, IF for the International Federation and CU for the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union. Non-homing pigeons are marked with NPA for the National Pigeon Association.
Cradle the baby pigeon in the palm of your off-hand with its feet facing you. Pick up the band with your dominant hand.2
Turn the band so that the numbers and letters printed on it are upside down. Gently slip the band over the three front toes of the bird until it just about reaches the leg joint.3
Hold onto the band and move it slowly up towards the leg joint to make the back toe of the bird slip into the band. Carefully pull the band up to cause the back toe to come out of the band. If the back toe won't come out easily, slide the end of an adult pigeon feather under the back toe and gently use it to pry the toe out of the band.