Bird ringing

Bird ringing (also known as '''bird banding) is the practice of identifying wild birds, by attaching a small metal or plastic ring to their legs.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Similar schemes
3 See also
4 References

Introduction

Birds are either ringed at the nest, or after being trapped in fine mist nests, Heligoland traps, duck decoys or similar.

A ring of suitable size is attached, and has on it a unique number, plus a contact address. The bird is often weighed and measured, and examined for parasites (which may then be removed) before release. The rings are very light-weight, and have no adverse affect on the birds.

Birds are then identified when they are re-trapped, or found dead.

The finder can contact the address on the ring, give the unique number, and be told the known history of the bird's movements.

The organising body, by collating many such reports, can then determine patterns of bird movements for large populations.

The first orgainsed schemes for bird ringing were started by Arthur Landsborough Thomson in Aberdeen and Harry Witherby (in 1909 in England.

Similar schemes

Wing tags

In some surveys, involving larger birds such as eagles, brightly- coloured plastic tags are attached to birds' wing feathers. each has a letter or letters, and the combination of colour and letters uniquely identifies the bird. These can then be read in the field, through binoculars, meaning that there is no need to re-trap the birds. Because the tags are attached to feathers, they drop off when the bird moults.

Radio transmitters

Scientist are now running schemes where minute radio transmitters are attached to the feathers of large migratory birds (geese and swans are popular subjects). These are then tracked by satellites. As with wing tags, the transmitters are designed to drop off when the bird moults.

See also

References

  • Knox, A.G. 1982. Ringing pioneer. BTO News No. 122, p.8.
  • Knox, A.G. 1983. The location of the Ringing Registers of the Aberdeen University Bird-Migration Inquiry. Ringing and Migration 4: 148. (This has a number of additional references.)


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