Have you spotted a ringed bird?
We can learn a great deal about birds by observing and counting them, but in order investigate things like how long they live and where and when they move, we need to identify individuals. Ringing birds with light-weight colour and/ or uniquely numbered rings allows us to investigate the life history traits of individual birds and to track them over time.
Note the inscribed colour ring on the right leg of this Mediterranean Gull.
In general, bird ringing involves placing a metal ring on a bird’s leg. While these rings are uniquely numbered, the inscription is very difficult, if not impossible, to read in the field, and so the bird must be recaptured in order to learn anything from it. However, the use of colour-rings negates the need to recapture birds, as these conspicuous rings can be read in the field using a telescope or a camera. This means that researchers and birdwatchers can identify individual birds numerous times with minimum disturbance to their behaviour. Some of the larger species (principally the geese) can be fitted with neck collars, as shown in the picture below.
Some of the geese such as these Greylag Geese are fitted with neck collars - note A|AH & A|AA in this photo.
Where to report your ringed bird
If you come across a ringed bird, it might be from a scheme here in Ireland or in Britain. If you know what the species was, you may be able to track down the scheme yourself - please click on the link to the right of this page for a full list of ringing programmes taking place in Ireland or others that include birds that occur here. Otherwise please consult the main Euring or Colour-Ringing websites.