Bird ringing involves the fitting of small, uniquely numbered metal rings on the legs of birds.
By identifying these birds as individuals, we can start to understand changes in the survival and movements of bird populations. In Britain and Ireland, the ringing scheme is run by the British Trust for Ornithology and primarily relies on the work of dedicated volunteers, of which there are currently over 2,000. Each year, these volunteers ring over 800,000 birds, around 12,000 of which are subsequently reported.
Most ringers catch birds when they’re at their most active, which is often early in the morning, so sessions starting at 5am are commonplace. A good morning’s ringing may take you through to lunchtime, but there’s always the possibility of catching birds coming to roost or even catching at night. You’ll no doubt find that ringing is a very satisfying activity. Not only will you be adding to 100 years of data used directly by conservationists, but enjoying the experience of seeing birds close up. Whether you want to train to ring birds in nest boxes, to ring your garden birds, or to ring everything at your local gravel pit, your contribution is vital.
The ringing process involves much more than you might imagine, preparation and planning to catch and ring birds is essential. Habitat management at ringing sites, maintenance of equipment and stocking winter feeding stations are all essential jobs. Most trainers and groups share chores with everyone getting involved.