Colour-rings and other related markers constitute a very valuable research tools that are used in studies, for example, of bird behaviour, daily activity and local and/or distant movements. This technique has certain advantages over conventional metal rings that make it highly suitable for these types of studies:

  • You only need to capture the bird once. Further controls are all visual and a lot of information can be recorded without disturbing the bird.
  • The rate of control is much higher, thereby making it easy to recreate a bird’s life-history.

On the other hand, for the system to work, observers must be very accurate when sending in observation data of birds displaying special markers. This portal is designed to facilitate the exchange of information between ringers and observers, and enables life histories of colour-marked birds to be generated easily.

© PNDE – Joan Gil

What to do and what information to record

When observing a bird with a colour-ring, a wing-tag, a neck-ring, a nasal saddle or medal, for example, it is vital to note down as much information as possible. Bear in mind that reading from a distance is not simple and so you must be careful and possibly patient. The essential data to record are as follows:

  • Site (place name, geographical coordinates, municipality, province, country).
  • Date and time.
  • Bird species.
  • Code and the order of reading (top-down, bottom-up, left-right).
    • You must be very careful when typewriting all the alphanumeric digits (letters, numbers and symbols) included on the ring or marker.
    • Dots (.) and colons (:) SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED.
    • Vertical bars are set as "/".
    • Zeroes (0) and the letter O are ALWAYS RECORDED AS A ZERO (0).
    • Some countries such as Germany and Switzerland, among others, use standard black darvic rings with white inscriptions. These rings include the abbreviation of the name of the scheme (DER,DEW and HES) as well as the code of the ring. Both codes must be entered together as in the following examples: HESSE567, DERA3268.
  • Type of marker (ring on tarsus, ring on tibia, wing marker, necklace, plate or nasal disc, flag on tail, flag on tibia or medal on chest) and shape of the marker (only for wing-tags and chest medals).
  • Background colour of the ring.
  • Colour of the inscription.
  • Metal ring: scheme abbreviation and code.
  • Age (pullus, immature, young, subadult, adult or the EURING data of bird dating).
  • Sex (female, male or unknown).
  • Condition: ringing, dead (unknown date), dead (less than a week ago), dead (more than a week ago), found wounded and released, found wounded and not released, kept in captivity (recovery centre), released by a ringer, observed alive, unknown.
  • Status: apparently local, non-local, breeding, apparently wintering, sleeping, in the sea, in a moulting flock or at a breeding colony, not necessarily breeding.
  • Remarks: state of marker’s condition (good, partially broken/erased, totally broken/erased, lost), whether the marker is dirty, unusual position of the marker; state of health the bird (broken wing, wounds, hooks, etc.) and any other relevant information concerning the observation.
© PNDE – Joan Gil