Colour-ringed Sightings - Make Them Count

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Always Birding
Feb 6, 2017
Over the years, it has long been a concern that many sightings of colour ringed birds seen here in the Outer Hebrides have not appeared in the BTO’s annual recovery totals. While individuals are encouraged to investigate the origin of these birds to a successful conclusion with the project concerned, the BTO are frequently not informed by those involved, hence the omissions in their data. Those that are not pursued to a successful conclusion are most often “lost”.

It would appear that there are several reasons for their omission, the most obvious being:
  • The observer is unable to find the ringer or project
  • The observer reports the sighting via various websites (including the BTO) but does not receive any feedback
  • The observer finds the history of the bird, but the BTO is not informed
Processing colour ringed sightings is very time consuming, be it by the observer or those administering the websites, and it can therefore become a low priority. The mis-reading of rings just complicates matters.

If the sighting is pursued to a successful conclusion, the original ringer has an obligation to report the sighting to the relavent ringing schemes, but unfortunately this is no longer happening in many cases, especially if it is a foreign ringed bird.

With your help, we could improve the situation.

If you are lucky enough to find a colour ringed bird but are unable to find the ringer or project or do not receive any feedback via the appropriate websites, please send us the relevant information and we will pursue it on your behalf. The information we require is species, date, location, the colour combination including any metal ring, the position of each ring and any inscriptions on them.

If you do receive a history of the bird, it is important that you also obtain the ring number of the bird and if possible, the associated ringing scheme. This information should then be sent to the BTO. This can be via their website, using the metal ring number, not the colour ring combination or if you wish, send us the information which we will forward to the BTO on your behalf.

Our contact details for all sightings is:-

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