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Welcome to the new SAFRING website.

To log into the site, use your email address and EITHER your ADU number or your SAFRING number. The password is the same password used for all ADU projects.

If you do not have a password, follow this link to generate one for your account.

SAFRING's mission: SAFRING is based at the University of Cape Town and provides bird ringing services in South Africa and other African countries. This entails providing ringing equipment to qualified ringers, and curating all ringing data. SAFRING communicates with ringers and interested parties through annually publishing one or two issues of a newsletter, Afring News, and by maintaining a list server. SAFRING holds national training courses, annually if there is sufficient demand. SAFRING liases with the provinces who have the responsibility of issuing permits. SAFRING has a strict code of ethics to ensure the safety of birds handled. SAFRING acknowledges the importance of bird ringing in that it has been described as the most important tool in ornithology in the 20th century.

The South African Bird Ringing Unit (SAFRING) administers bird ringing in southern Africa, supplying rings, ringing equipment and services to volunteer and professional ringers in South Africa and neighbouring countries. All ringing records are curated by SAFRING, which is an essential arm of the Animal Demography Unit. Contact is maintained by the SAFRING Project Coordinator with all ringers (banders in North American or Australian terminology).


Longevity of the White-fronted Bee-eater
Dane Paijmans (2014-08-27)

For this week I chose to calculate the longevity of a common bird found in the more northern parts of the country; the White-fronted Bee-eater. This species has far fewer ring records then the other birds I have listed so far, which may account for the short longevity of only 7 years. This individual however was ringed as an adult and only retrapped so far which means these birds definatly do live longer. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Coraciiformes
       Family: Meropidae
             Genus: Merops
  Average lifespan 5-6 years (Roberts 7)
  6.84 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Merops bullockoides   BE33977
  Common name   Sample size
  White-fronted Bee-eater   Ringed: 745      Retrapped: 24
  Recovered: 4 Total: 773
A recovery of a long distance traveller
Dane Paijmans (2014-08-22)

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An Arctic Tern initially ringed on Wooden Ball Island, Maine, USA has recently been recovered 12,874 km away, in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal. This individual (ring # 133220783) was initially ringed in the summer of 2011 by an American ringer Stephen Kress, and was recovered just east of Mooi River on 3 May 2014. This is one of only three tern records that we have from North America, with the other two originating from Canada in 1928 and 1947 (000548138 and 047306032 respectively). I would like to thank Tony Tree for making us aware of this record and Trevor Hardaker for forwarding all the information to us. I would also like to thank all those involved in the identification process.

When discovering any ringed bird please be sure to let us at SAFRING know so that we can add it to our database.

Longevity of the Cape Sugarbird
Dane Paijmans (2014-08-20)

For this week I chose to calculate the longevity of a bird thats a common sight around the proteas in the Cape; the Cape Sugarbird. This individual was again a female and just like the Cape Sparrow last week has not left the initial ringing site. The longevity given by Roberst 7 is the runner up to this one and is a male ringed in Somerset West in the 80s. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Promeropidae
             Genus: Promerops
  12.2 years (Roberts 7)
  14.63 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Promerops cafer   484931
  Common name   Sample size
  Cape Sugarbird   Ringed: 9747      Retrapped: 1075
  Recovered: 40 Total: 10862
Longevity of the Cape Sparrow
Dane Paijmans (2014-08-13)

For this week I chose to calculate the longevity of a more common garden visitor; the Cape Sparrow. This individual was a female and appears to have spent her whole life in Vanderbijlpark. This isn't to say the females live the longest as we also have a male longevity record of 10.55 years. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Passeridae
             Genus: Passer
  10.66 years (Roberts 7)
  10.67 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Passer melanurus   F19689
  Common name   Sample size
  Cape Sparrow   Ringed: 46468      Retrapped: 2153
  Recovered: 406 Total: 49027
Vehicular Fatalities
Dane Paijmans (2014-08-06)

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Researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority found over 200 dead crows near greater Boston recently, and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu. A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone's relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu.

The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts. However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colours of paints appeared on the bird's beaks and claws. By analysing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviourist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. The Ornithological Behaviourist very quickly concluded the cause: when crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger.

They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout "Cah", not a single one could shout "Truck”.

On a more serious note I thought we could take a look at the of vehicular fatality statistics within the SAFRING database. 

On calculating the total deaths resulting from our various forms of transport I found that the total number of recovered birds is 666, and thankfully I’m not too superstitious or I would see a bad omen in that number. This total is made up of 152 different bird species, ranging from small weavers, sunbirds and doves, to the not so small Cape Vulture, Secretary Bird, and various eagle species. Strangely crows do not appear on this list, although this may be a result of very few ringed individuals.

This is of course not an accurate count as most of the birds killed on our roads are not ringed and will not be reported. The main culprit of these fatalities are cars and trucks, although interestingly we also had a small number of collisions (>20) resulting from trains, planes and even ships.

So if in future you come across a deceased bird along the road be sure to take a quick look to see if it has a ring and send these details to SAFRING.

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tel. +27 (21) 650 4751 email. michael.brooks[@]uct.ac.za