The importance of bird ringing

Ready for ringing: our peregrine chick

Ready for ringing: our peregrine chick

We are expecting to ring our peregrine falcon chick this afternoon and so the falcon web cam will be turned off for a brief period. Bird ringing is vital, it helps us to learn more about the lifecycle of wild birds – and prevent wildlife crime.

The peregrine falcon is a magnificent bird of prey and one of the most wonderful sights that nature can offer in the UK. Over the last decade Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has been working with partners such as Nottingham Trent University to protect these beautiful birds within the county. Much of our work is with landowners  – providing advice and practical help to ensure suitable nesting sites for peregrines are secure – as well as raising the profile of the birds and the problems they face.

However, despite the success of this work, including the hugely popular webcam featuring the peregrine nest on Nottingham Trent University’s Newton building, peregrines in Nottinghamshire continue to be under threat. Although they are a legally protected species, peregrine eggs and chicks are sadly in danger of theft or harm.

Many people believe that egg and chick theft is something belonging to a previous generation, but there have been recurring problems at several sites across the county over the last few years. In 2009 alone, 14 chicks were taken from known nest sites in Nottinghamshire.

Nest cameras – with or without live web links – are one route to help reduce wildlife crime. Closer monitoring of sites helps to prevent thefts and attacks and where crimes do occur, recordings from cameras can help, or provide further evidence to help with prosecutions.

Placing special identification rings on the legs of wild birds, as we do each year with the chicks in the Newton building nest, can also help to deter would be thieves.

The other benefit of ‘bird ringing’ is that the data collected when rings are found (usually when a bird is injured or killed or when birds are trapped as part of licensed research programmes) helps scientists to build up a better picture of the movements and distribution patterns of these wonderful birds.

Ringing usually entails catching birds in fine nets called mist nets, but when dealing with chicks in monitored nest boxes this is unnecessary. A small ring, which is pretty much weightless, is placed around the bird’s leg and the ring has markings which are unique – making it possible to track individual birds. The leg rings have no effect on a bird’s ability to fly, and don’t interfere with feeding or breeding.

Everyone involved in ringing birds has to go undergo a thorough training programme and must be licensed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) if they plan to ring birds on their own. It is illegal to catch wild birds without a ringing licence.

By ringing birds it becomes possible to gather information about bird movements, breeding, feeding, and lifespan and this information helps us plan for the future conservation of wild populations.

Erin McDaid
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

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111 Responses to The importance of bird ringing

  1. Claire says:

    Why can’t we watch???

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    • daventu says:

      Hi Claire – we couldn’t keep the video on while taking the chick from the nest to be ringed, but we do hope to produce a video showing the ringing process

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      • Sarah S. says:

        Why is that? Technicalities? Security?
        Thanks for keeping us all updated anyway. Right now chick looks like he/she’s up against a firing squad, backed up against the board.

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      • daventu says:

        It has been our standard practice to turn the feed off during the ringing. We would also have had to seek the permission of the ringing team and our focus was simply on getting the job done quickly and efficiently. The ringer would have likely obscured the view in any case as they have to stand directly in front of them in very close proximity. We thought it would be better to video and photograph the ringing using different/portable cameras to get the best views possible. We may review the policy as part of our annual project review.

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  2. chris morley says:

    hi erin i didnt realize that there were that many peregrines in notts,ie 14 chicks being taken,and dispite what as happened this year i think all at nwt do a really good job i offer my thanks to you and your folk anything that helps people to look up once and a while helps you never know whats in the sky till you look

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  3. Faye Wyndham-Crouch says:

    thankyou for explaining its importance and for your part in helping protect these most beautiful birds. will you show a vid of the chick ringing process after it is completed?

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  4. Rachel says:

    I was wondering what happens if Mr & Mrs P return to find the chick not there? Will it freak them out at all?

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  5. julie907 says:

    Ive seen vids of ringing on youtube and the parents are usually flying overhead shouting as there are people, I have never known this to upset the nest and cause the parents to leave the chicks permanently. The reason thecameras are turned off is usually because the birds are protected and in the past people have actually phoned the police to report that chicks are being stolen when they arent

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  6. julie907 says:

    Cam back on now, do we have a sex? He/she looks stunned as usual afterwards, bless

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  7. ann111@sky.com says:

    Yes it does look perplexed-bless

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  8. SueAtt says:

    Baby P looks very disgruntled after the events of the afternoon and certainly isn’t going to show off the nice new ring on his/her leg! 😦

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  9. geofft says:

    I completely agree with the rationale behind the ringing process but I’m intrigued as how you actually physically do it at NTU? Does somebody wait until the parents are away then clamber out of a window? Is the nest right next to a window so you can just grab the chick? Have you got a big ladder? How long does the process take? If you can interfere with the nest now for the ringing process then why couldn’t you have intervened when the three siblings were dying? Surely the adult birds must suffer the same amount of distress with humans around their chicks? When you post the video it would be great if you could answer some of these questions. I’ve got visions of someone sidling along that ledge…

    Like

    • daventu says:

      Hi – the ringing team carefully waits until the parents are away from the nest and the whole operation is carried out quickly. Hopefully we’ll be able to give you more detail about the process in the video we are putting together.

      Ringing is part of a scientific monitoring programme and is timed to minimise any disturbance. As the pair are not currently under any undue stress, it is very unlikely that a carefully executed ringing operation would pose any threat of the parents abandoning the nest.

      The decision about whether to intervene when the chicks were struggling is a much wider issue. Whilst it is likely that any further stress during that period could have led to the adults abandoning the nest, the main reason for not intervening is that these are wild birds and if we had removed them from the nest it would have been almost impossible to return them to the wild.

      Like

      • julie907 says:

        not to mention, that many chicks may well have perished that weekend in unmonitered nests. Its nature at its cruellest unfortunately… warts and all

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  10. julie907 says:

    Lol, Bless lil baby P… I watched the ones at chich after ringing the other day, they looked totally stunned bless em . They soon bounce back

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  11. Penny says:

    I am pleased to see that the opportunity was also taken to make the measuring board more secure – it was quite worrying the way it was flapping about the other day in the high wind! I hope our little chap/chapesss gets over the ringing trauma soon – I believe it would have found it less disturbing if it had had siblings to keep it company, poor little thing.

    Like

  12. Jan says:

    Flashing nice shiny new ring!

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  13. Mark says:

    There doesn’t seem to be any sound now.

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  14. Lynn says:

    Awww gotta luv lil’ P….. Awesome experience being able to get a peek into there lives. Thank you NTU and NWT. Has adult been back to nest since ringing? Peeped many times but not seen yet!!

    Like

    • Rachel says:

      Can just see Mr or Mrs P’s legs in shot on the ledge but cannot see which! Think the chick could do with a quick nuzzle to make him feel better – he’s looking a bit stunned!

      Like

  15. julie907 says:

    Well one parent has returned to the ledge 🙂

    Like

  16. Alison says:

    There is a great video on the BBC website about the ringing of last year’s chicks that answers a lot of the questions posted here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-13467233

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    • SW says:

      Thanks for the link, very interesting!

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    • geofft says:

      Thanks for the link Alison. That’s a great bit of video and gives me a better indication of how NTU access the birds to ring them. I watched all of those chicks grow up and fledge last year. It was really weird that I went into Nottingham city centre with my kids and we watched the newly adult birds sitting on various ledges and flapping about. There were hundreds of people with shopping bags walking around who had no idea what we were looking at except for one old geezer who said “Do you know that those are peregrine falcons up there?” Priceless!

      Like

  17. justme says:

    I notice the little un has started to show a little curiousity about what is outside the nest and his gaze wanders onto the ledge!!!

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  18. Shirley Stirland says:

    parent been back to nest with food at last..hurrah,after two visits to the ledge ,think they suspect strange goings on…..

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  19. Belinda says:

    Glad to see he looks none the worse and is having a good feed. I’ve lost the sound now though. Can the microphone be switched back on please as I like listening to his screeching!

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  20. Lesley says:

    Did anyone else notice our chick trying to swallow a whole pigeon’s leg complete with ring? Fortunately he/she decided it was too big and discarded it. Really amazing viewing.

    Like

    • Anne says:

      Yes I saw that too Lesley, as you said, it was amazing viewing. Glad that the chick seems to have fully recovered from a rather traumatic afternoon,

      Like

      • Lesley says:

        You are quite right Anne, our chick did look a little shell-shocked after ringing. However on the basis of a good feeding session (almost snatching food from parent bird’s mouth) hopefully all back to normal again!

        Like

    • John Waters says:

      I will hope that all the pigeon rings recovered from the nest will be reported through the appropriate channels so the owners of the pigeons can be informed of their fate

      Like

  21. Nigel says:

    Sound now back on

    Like

  22. Dean Barton says:

    I have noticed that the pigeon rings that were in the nest have been removed could you email me a list of the numbers please.

    Like

  23. PamUK says:

    I missed out on all the excitement of the ringing and hope to get a pic tomorrow. What I did see this morning was the chick eating from the head of a small bird grasped in its claws. Not a pigeon I might add, but a small black headed bird with a bright yellow beak, possibly a blackbird. I put a picture here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66339356@N00/sets/72157629524594786/detail/?page=2
    Look forward to seeing the video of the ringing.

    Like

    • MrsJ28 says:

      Hi Pam, yes i saw that too, made me feel a little queasy just before lunchtime! There was also a pink birds foot in the box too. He was definitely practicing has he grasped both of these and was having a good go at trying to get some meat from them. He’s really growing up quickly!

      Like

  24. Sarah S. says:

    Some stunning close-ups of adult on the ledge.

    Like

  25. Sarah S. says:

    Can someone remind me of how to capture an image please?

    Like

    • Jeff says:

      Hi Sarah

      Image taking and saving : Ctrl & PrtScn simultaneously, then Start, Word, right click, and Paste. This can then be saved to a folder. Jeff

      Like

      • Sarah S. says:

        Thanks Jeff 🙂

        Like

      • Anne says:

        Thanks Jeff, I didn’t know how to do it either, just had a practice, worked perfectly. As well as learning about peregrines I’m learning more about technology!

        Like

  26. Catherine says:

    I just watched the chick being fed a ringed bird – do you retrieve and check the ring in that case?

    Like

  27. PamUK says:

    Chick was fed at 3.20pm. It seemed really hungry but soon had a full crop. The camera is moving about a lot today presumably because the wind has changed direction ? My picture also keeps freezing for a few seconds but maybe that it is my computer connection.

    Like

  28. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    So good to know the chick is now ringed, I thought for a moment the cams had failed, was the sex of the chick determined, I am amazed how quickly the little ones flight feathers are developing and how big He/She is, He/She will soon be hopping onto the ledge

    Like

  29. Christine says:

    Just got back from a week’s camping in North Wales – now I know how those birds felt in the wind and rain!! Suprised at the rapid growth of the chick

    Like

  30. SueAtt says:

    Chick just measured him/herself – “look how big I am everyone, I’ve reached the 20cm mark on the measuring board!”

    Like

  31. Christine says:

    To PamUK – thanks for capturing all the lovely photos!

    Like

  32. PamUK says:

    11.25am and another small bird kill is passed to the female by the male. She ate some herself and then was feeding the chick. I can’t help thinking if the four chicks had survived then there would scarcely have been enough food to go around.

    Like

    • Penny says:

      Hi Pam – I wonder if they know they only have one chick to feed and provide accordingly? Perhaps if there had been four chicks they would have brought more food – I am no expert, and am only guessing, but it seems logical to think this might be the case.

      Like

  33. PamUK says:

    I think you are right Penny. It’s true that they hide prey somewhere until it is needed and I believe I may have seen the same prey being taken away and brought back more than once so maybe if the four chicks had survived more food would have been brought in from the cache. Didn’t think clearly about that before.

    Like

  34. Will Tanner says:

    On the subject of rings, does anyone know if the racing pigeon rings are returned or reported to the R.P.R.A I’m sure the owners of these pigeons would like to know why they haven’t returned home

    Like

    • SW says:

      See Dave’s answers to previous queries, above.

      Like

    • Mary T says:

      I found a racing pigeon and went on line to track who it belonged to. I spoke to the owner who was not at all interested and would not even pay for it to be returned to him. I believe once he knew it was not well he had no interest in it. i took it to someone locally but it sadly died.

      Like

      • John Waters says:

        Mary

        Fanciers like this are in the minority and unfortunately you do got some people like this in all walks of life. Pigeon fanciers do care about there birds and spend 365 days caring for their birds, thats why it is important to notify the owners of their fate.

        Like

      • Mary T says:

        Hi John thanks for your reply. I’m sure there are many caring pigeon owners out there but I am afraid I won’t forget my experience of trying to look after “Walter” (pigeon).

        Like

  35. SueAtt says:

    Just witnessed a very frantic and noisy feeding session! Anyone would think little P hadn’t been fed for a week – Mum fed him/her first and almost got pulled over when little P grabbed hold of her beak, then Dad turned up with seconds and carried on until chick decided he/she was full to bursting! 🙂

    Like

  36. SW says:

    Did anyone else see our nameless youngster get quite excited when a pied wagtail ran past the nest?

    Like

  37. Christine says:

    On the subject of racing pigeons, the ring numbers are all logged, in a previous blog there is a link to see them all. I would imagine that the owners of the pigeons think of their pigeons going astray as an occupational hazard, most of the pigeons I see in Chesterfield town centre have rings on but they are living feral, I have ‘rescued’ a couple of pigeons in the past which have either been ‘blown off course’ or become exhausted and have traced their owners, to be honest I don’t think the owners are too bothered unless the pigeon is one of their best racers and worth any money, so many must go missing and I think the impact of peregrines on racing pigeons or any other birds is relatively small compared to all the other hazards they face – just my opinion, I feel for all the wildlife which is either killed on the road or hunted by other species including human hunters who do it for ‘fun’ as opposed to something trying to survive and feed its family but there you go – it is the way of the world

    Like

  38. GillyC says:

    Woah! 2.25pm baby almost made it out of the nest after biting mum’s toes! Not long now before he gets the hang of it!

    Like

  39. D2 says:

    Not seen either parent for a few hours – hope they are ok

    Like

  40. Penny says:

    I have noticed that the parent birds are now spending very little time with ‘Chick’ except when they feed him/her. This seems to have happened since the chick was ringed and I am hoping this is not the reason. Probably just the time when they would normally leave it alone more, but even now, at night, it sits alone. It would not be so bad if it had siblings, but it does seem very lonely, poor little (or not so little now!) thing.

    Like

  41. Ann says:

    No mummy cuddles tonight it seems

    Like

  42. Pat says:

    5.35am Monday Chick has managed to get out of the nest….do hope he doesn’t fall off the ledge.

    Like

  43. Irene says:

    Oh crumbs! Just turned on the webcam at 5.42am UK time (I’m in the USA) and the chick is out of the box. Is this the first time he’s escaped? Will the parent get him by the scruff of the neck and haul him back in?

    Like

  44. SW says:

    Out again!

    Like

  45. Anne says:

    He/she has just hopped out again!

    Like

  46. betty_boo says:

    OMG its out of the nest , im worried but i know its normal ..

    Like

  47. Rachel says:

    Not seen the cam properly since Friday and his growth rate is just amazing! He’s even managed to jump out of the nest – its bit nail biting watching what will happen next!!

    Like

  48. Steve says:

    This is one clever chick. Already he’s thinking outside the box…..

    Like

  49. Jan says:

    Looks like he/she’s thinking “What the…..?” 🙂

    Like

  50. Gill says:

    Oh my goodness, just logged on and to my horror the chick had disappeared! Then, relieved, I saw it’s little head bob up at the bottom of the screen:-) Little cutey, ready to explore the outside world!

    Like

  51. Penny says:

    Heart in mouth time as the chick, now back in the nest box, sits contemplating the jump to the higher ledge with the massive drop at the edge! He can do it, he easily hopped back into the nest box from the lower ledge – oh goodness I can hardly bear to watch!

    Like

  52. Sue says:

    Noticed the chick getting very inquisitive with the camera wires … hope he doesn’t try to peck too ferociously! He seems to have got massve over the last week, but not getting onto the ledge yet. Mum is watching him more carefully now.

    Like

  53. SueAtt says:

    Thank goodness – chick’s gone back into the favourite corner! Mum was certainly keeping a watchful eye when chick was gazing out into the big wide world and thinking “shall I, shan’t I?” Don’t think there’s going to be much work done today – too much going on in the nest!

    Like

    • Penny says:

      Sue, you have posted almost exactly what I was going to say! Just rushed to deal with the washing while he is asleep in his corner, lol.

      Like

    • Belinda says:

      13.30 Thought we had lost him. Camera was panning round. Think he got into a blind spot. Then he reappeared. My heart was in my mouth. This is crazy – I’ll never get to the gym, never mind work! Can’t bear to watch but can’t turn away. Phew he’s back in his box and heading for the corner.

      Like

  54. PamUK says:

    Just switched on at the right time to catch the chick out of the nest box. Quite a surprise !
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66339356@N00/sets/72157629524594786/detail/?page=2

    Like

  55. julie907 says:

    Mum is staying really close, she knows the risks I am sure… its good to see her keeping a watchful eye 🙂

    Like

  56. julie907 says:

    Brilliant close upon zoom cam atm

    Like

  57. justme says:

    oh oh out of the box again lots of wing spreading and flapping going on…..looking at the ledge….scary stuff

    Like

  58. StellaCorfu says:

    Wow! That was an adventure wasn’t it! He’s really getting ready to go – won’t be long now. Then he couldn’t get back into the nesting box until the 3rd attempt. This is not doing my blood pressure any good!!! Back to work for a rest…

    Like

  59. julie907 says:

    bless, chick just got some prey and feeding self, wonderful viewing

    Like

  60. julie907 says:

    lol keeps shouting at mum to help.. but she is having none of it

    Like

  61. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    So good to see the chick feeding its self and calling for help ( which he/she is not getting )
    I felt a little nervouse watching the not so wee thing hop onto the ledge the other day, fortunatly not to close to the edge

    Like

  62. julie907 says:

    Mums been on the ledge all day today, like she knows that he could stray out

    Like

  63. SueAtt says:

    OK folks – chick settled down for an afternoon nap so we can all breath again and get on with some work! 🙂

    Like

  64. Dee says:

    Can I just say what fantastic close ups – thank you!

    Like

  65. Stuart. Nottingham says:

    Is it poosable to take stll pictures from the live feed direct to PC

    Like

    • Anne says:

      Stuart, see post by Jeff on May 18th, he has given very clear instructions. I’ve now got some nice pictures thanks to him

      Like

  66. Sally says:

    We are treated to some fantastic filming. I’ve just been watching a beautiful close-up of one of the parents on the ledge. Thank you to the NTU falcon team for this pleasure.

    Like

    • betty_boo says:

      I agree the close up pics are beautiful, i have been watching most of the day and night , must go to bed need to be up early to see little one feed . what a treat.

      Like

  67. Ann says:

    Thank you for another fantastic day in falcon ville

    Like

  68. Val Crowther says:

    When do you expect the chick to fledge?

    Like

  69. betty_boo says:

    out the nest again, looks like hes off to sunny Blackpool ..lol

    Like

  70. Pip says:

    Ah look at him! Going for a walk!
    www.ntu.ac.uk screen capture 2012-5-22-9-26-35

    Like

  71. Pip says:

    I say ‘him’, can’t seem to find confirmation of gender after the ringing.

    Like

  72. betty_boo says:

    Back safe and sound must get some work done now ,

    Like

  73. Pip says:

    Now Mum sunbathing next to the box. Great footage this morning! :o)

    Like

  74. Johnny Brine says:

    Before I watched the video of the ringing, I kinda guessed that Falconers would somehow get blamed in some way & you sure didn’t let me down. I wish people would realise that people who fly Birds of Prey are not going to put their sport at risk, facing heavy fines & a ban from keeping them. Peregrine Falcons are readily bred in captivity, rung & registered with DEFRA & are not as rare or no where near as expensive as most News reports make out. Please don’t blame Falconers.

    Like

    • daventu says:

      Hi there – Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust recognises that the vast majority of falconers are responsible and only work with captive reared birds. However, wild chicks are still stolen for use in falconry – with some being transported abroad. You will see from our previous blog posts about threats to eggs and chicks that we refer to people who take eggs or chicks thieves / criminals.

      Erin McDaid, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

      Like

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