Why report a ringed bird?

If you have found a ringed bird, please report it using the Euring website.


A ringed Robin.  Photo by Keith Clowes. 

In 100 years we’ve ringed 36 million birds, which have generated nearly 700,000 ‘recoveries’ (reports of dead birds or notable ‘live’ movements). The modern ringing scheme, however, is about far more than just answering the question of where Swallows go in winter. With the data ringers are collecting being more and more accessible (thanks in large part to the advent of home computers), we can do far more than just look at migration movements. In an era of increasing environmental change such as climate change and habitat loss, using ringing data to measure trends in bird populations is vitally important. One of the key things we monitor in the modern scheme is survival – quite simply the proportion of birds that survive from one year to the next. Easy! But this simple measure isn’t quite as straightforward as we might think.

Dead, or just not seen again?

There are two quite different things that affect the number of reports of ringed birds we receive: the chance a bird will die (and conversely the survival rate, which is what we are interested in) and the chance it will be found and reported (the recovery rate).

Even just a quick look at the numbers suggests that only one in 50 ringed birds is found dead, so we need to ring large numbers of birds to ensure that enough are subsequently found. The recovery rate has also been dropping fast, meaning we have fewer birds from which to estimate survival rates, and have to do more complex analyses to account for this change. Both of these mean we estimate survival with less precision, and in turn can provide less effective conservation advice.

So you can see the importance of looking for, and reporting, ringed birds and we really don’t mind how we receive these. But if you do find a ring, there are better ways to report it. On behalf of EURING, we’ve continued to develop the www.ring.ac reporting site, and it is possible now to report your ringed bird in 13 languages, including Turkish, Lithuanian and Catalan. So keep an eye out for anything with a ring, and get in touch.