Bird Ringing Introduction

by Kevin Sayer

Why do we ring birds?

Much has been discovered about birds by watching and counting them but such methods rarely allow birds to be identified as individuals. This is essential if we are to learn about how long they live and when and where they move, questions that are vital for bird conservation. Placing a lightweight, uniquely numbered, metal ring around a bird's leg provides a reliable and harmless method of identifying birds as individuals. Each ring also has an address so that anyone finding a ringed bird can help by reporting where and when it was found and what happened to it. Some ringing projects also use colour rings to allow individual birds to be identified without being caught.

Although we have been ringing birds in Britain and Ireland for nearly 100 years, we are still discovering new facts about migration routes and wintering areas. However, the main focus of the Ringing Scheme today is monitoring bird populations. Ringing allows us to study how many young birds leave the nest and survive to become adults, as well as how many adults survive the stresses of breeding, migration and severe weather. Changes in survival rates and other aspects of birds' biology help us to understand the causes of population declines.

Pair of Scops Owls on Cyprus Kevin Sayer

Are you interested in training to become a bird ringer?

We can't promise you Scops Owls but training those interested to ring is part of what I do. I've recently been appointed a BTO Trainer that allows me to take on Trainee Ringers and give them the necessary training. Being retired I ring frequently, from 2 to 3 times each week during Spring & Autumn, less so in Winter, so there is an opportunity for a trainee/s to ring to suit their work/life pattern. Training takes from one to two years, shorter if specific projects are intended. Realistically, some 30 to 50 ringing occasions each year. The more ringing you do the shorter the training. There are no exclusions, just a starting age of 16+yrs. and being comfortable with early starts. If after reading this you are interested in training to become a ringer then email Kevin Sayer .