Colour-Ringed Birds

With winter visitors from northern Europe and Siberia currently in our area, you may come across birds sporting coloured rings.  This are part of scientific studies to better understand how birds disperse from their breeding grounds in winter and what the survival pressures are for them throughout their range.  If you see coloured-ringed birds, make a note of the ring colours and report them either to the particular study programme or via the EURING ring reporting website.  This not only supports the scientific study, but also adds excitement to your birding as you will get a report back on the bird you have identified.

When reporting, note the colour of the rings starting with the top of the left leg and note which are above the knee and which below.  Hence, if a bird had a red ring over a yellow ring above the “knee” on its left leg and a green ring below and two yellow rings above the “knee” and a red one below on the right, the code would be RY/G-YY/R.  Sometimes white rings also have an identification letter or symbol e.g. X and sometimes the rings have a flap on them called a flag.  Currently, there are two ringed black-tailed godwits using the meadow off Lower Pennington Lane whose rings are: RR-YX and GW-YYflag – these are part of an Icelandic ringing scheme and RR-YX has been returning since 2003.  These codes indicate there are two rings on each leg on the tibia (above the knee) and none on the meta-tarsals (below the knee).

You may also see swans locally with an orange “Darvic” ring on their right leg with a three letter code.  These are part of a local study schemes with birds being ringed in Christchurch Harbour.  You may see similar rings on other species including coots, ospreys and gulls.

If you have trouble reporting a sighting, let us know through the contact us form and we’ll try to help.

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