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.
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust