Kili, Truman, and Santina got microchipped and this article is about the procedure and the pros/cons. First off, I'm a believer in leg bands. I think leg bands are the simplest and most effective means of bird identification. Except when medically necessary, I think it is better to keep pet parrots banded. If given the choice on a new baby to band or not, I'd take the band.
Santina came from the rescue without a band. I was told that hers was removed for medical reasons so I would not consider open banding her again. This is why I first decided to look into microchipping for Santina.
The reason that parrots should carry some type of permanent identification is so that if it is ever lost, stolen, found, rescued, or disputed, there is a means of identifying the bird. In the case of lose or found, a band helps provide readily visible identification and may help the bird be returned. A band can lead to contact with the breeder the bird came from and that could help connect the bird to the owner. I also feel that if ever questioned by authorities about a parrot, showing that it is banded can help simplify things quicker. If ownership of the bird is disputed, having records pertaining to the identification can help resolve legal matters. Lastly for a bird that drifts from home to home through rescue, a band may help figure out the age of the bird and other information that may be helpful in its care.
Since Santina came without her band, I will never find out what breeder she came from. That kind of information could be useful to learn more about how the bird was raised and to confirm the age. To ensure that Santina can be definitively identified and because of the higher potential to get lost (since I fly my birds indoors and out), I wanted to get her microchipped as soon as possible. I decided to get Kili & Truman microchipped as well while I was at it. The one case where having both microchip and band is best is in the case of theft where bands usually get cut off.
A microchip is installed by injection into the pectoral muscle under the skin. Old microchips required the bird to be anesthetized and a surgical procedure. The new kind that I got from Microchip ID Solutions is even smaller and requires nothing more than a localized anesthetic. The old chips used to migrate around the body but the new ones are supposed to remain in place. Many clinics are unaware of these new smaller ones so be sure to ask which ones they use or recommend they use this smaller one. The chips aren't expensive and the procedure can be done by a vet tech rater than vet so it is not that costly. A location for the micochip is chosen and a mark is made with a maker. An injection is made to numb the area and once in effect, the microchip is directly injected. The microchip can be identified by a microchip reader at any vet clinic.
Microchipping parrots has its pros and cons. These are both physical and practical in nature. The benefits of a microchip over a band is that it is unobtrusive, cannot be removed, is recorded in a nationwide database with your information, and doesn't cause discomfort. The down side is that nobody can see it and few can use a device to read it.
Only vet clinics and large scale cat/dog rescues are equipped to read microchips. And even then, most don't bother scanning a bird unless it was brought in and known to be lost. When is the last time someone scanned your parrot for a microchip? For all you know it has one and nobody ever bothered to check. This is the problem of a microchip compared to a band. It doesn't ever get checked unless a bird is found and brought to a facility that has a reader.
In a study conducted by Dr. Todd Driggers DVM that found that the new microchips (like the ones I had implanted in my birds), cause very little tissue trauma. In the study he says, "the CPK increased by approximately 300 mg/dl in each bird. In comparison, CPK can elevate with a single antibiotic injection to over 1500 mg/dl. Because microchips do not create muscle necrosis (like antibiotics can) the relative amount of tissue damage to the muscle is very low." He also suggests that local anesthetics are maximum precaution necessary and that these chips are small enough to implant in parrots as small as lovebirds. In 2 days, Dr. Driggers implanted 22 chips in various species and concluded that "no post implantation infections have been observed so sterilization of the chips and a refined implantation procedure has proven effective."
For these reasons I think both bands and microchips have their place and the ideal combination may be a combination of both. However, the most important and reliable measures are the ones you can take to ensure the safety of your bird in the first place. Wing-clipping is NOT a valid safety measure to keep parrots from being lost. Keeping doors and windows closed, a carrier/harness outdoors, and a safety minded approach are the most effective measures for keeping birds from getting lost. But accidents can still happen so for the very unlikely event of one, that's where having some ID on your bird is a great idea.