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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 Cape Gannet
Dane Paijmans (2014-07-23)

Sticking to birds I ran into during my personal field work (as these are the ones I have photos), I chose the Cape Gannets longevity this week. An interesting fact about this old bird is that it has not been recovered so if it is still alive today it would be 47 years old. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Suliformes
       Family: Sulidae
             Genus: Morus
  30.6 years (Roberts 7)
  33.23 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Morus capensis   912850
  Common name   Sample size
  Cape Gannet   Ringed: 111292      Retrapped: 31354
  Recovered: 2706 Total: 145352
Longevity of the African Black Oystercatcher
Dane Paijmans (2014-07-17)

As part of an effort to compile an up to date longevity list for southern African birds I will be uploading a regular maximum longevity of one species found within the SAFRING database. All these records will go into a complete list that we will hopefully publish before the end of the year. An interesting point to note about the record below is that this bird did not die from natural causes as it euthanized due to a broken leg. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

 Click Image to Download Article   Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Charadriiformes
       Family: Haematopodidae
             Genus: Haematopus
  29 years (Roberts 7)
  28.91 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Haematopus moquini   636605
  Common name   Sample size
  African Black Oystercatcher   Ringed: 4048      Retrapped: 315
  Recovered:149 Total: 4512
An Interesting Article Utilising Bird Ringing Data
Dane Paijmans (2014-07-03)

Click Image to Download Article

A new paper coauthored by Dr Mark Brown has just been published in Animal Conservation utilising bird ringing data.


Previous studies that tracked the movements of single bird species within human-modified landscapes have shown that the ability of forest birds to move across matrix habitat differs among species. Functional guild specificity as well as landscape characteristics have been shown to influence bird movements, entailing different movement behaviour of birds within a community. Studies investigating how both these factors influence the movements of entire bird assemblages across fragmented landscapes are essential but have rarely been conducted. In this study, we determined how species’ traits and different forest matrices influence bird movements among nine forest patches in a highly fragmented South African landscape. We combined 90 h of bird observations with capture–mark–recaptures (104 754 mist-net hours) to distinguish between movements among patches (all birds that conduct long-distance movements across the landscape) and movements within patches (all resident birds that conduct only short-distance movements within a fragment). Overall, we detected a high bird movement activity across the fragmented landscape. Dietary specialization, habitat affinity and body mass strongly shaped the relative distribution of bird species across the nine fragments with frugivorous birds, forest specialists and large-bodied species showing the highest movement abilities. In contrast, resident insectivores and forest generalists tended to move only within particular forest fragments. Our results suggest that remnant forest fragments may represent valuable stepping stones as well as permanent habitat for local bird assemblages. We emphasize that beside the conservation of natural forests, the maintenance of nearby, structurally rich forest fragments is pivotal in maintaining regional forest bird assemblages in human-modified landscapes.

If you are interested in this article click on the image on the left to be directed to the journal site.

Re-sighting of a Subantarctic Skua (Catharacta antarctica) at Durban harbour
Dane Paijmans (2014-06-11)



On the 9th of June 2014 SAFRING received an email from David Allan from the Durban Natural Science Museum reporting a sighting of a Subantarctic Skua (Catharacta antarctica) which occurred at the mouth of Durban harbour on 8 June. This sighting was made more interesting by the fact that this bird was metal- and colour-ringed. Thanks to Peter Ryan from the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology we could trace the origins of this bird to Marion Island where it hatched during the 2008/2009 breeding season. Further details can be seen by clicking the ring number (854101). Although this skua is occasionally seen along our coasts these birds are rarely ringed. We at SAFRING only receive one record of ringed skuas every few years.

Special thanks go to David Allan (Durban Natural Science Museum) for the photos and sighting details.

Colour Rings on Swift Terns
Dane Paijmans (2014-05-27)

Swift Terns

Swift Terns are one of the few locally-breeding seabirds whose numbers are increasing. To help understand the main factors driving the positive trend of this species, a team of researchers from the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town marked 500 Swift Terns chicks from Robben Island in April 2013 and 2014 with metal and individually engraved colour rings. In 2013 members of the public reported how these birds dispersed, providing information on the fledging success, survival and dispersal of juvenile Swift Terns, which were re-sighted from Namibia to the Eastern Cape. 

Gathering dispersal records is a time consuming but important task that relies on assistance from volunteers across southern Africa. 

Rings in 2014 are orange and yellow (with black text) and green and blue (with white text), and are engraved with an “A” followed by a letter and a number (e.g. AU2). Rings from 2013 are yellow and white (with black text) and green and blue (with white text), and bear a code of one letter and one number (e.g. U2).  The majority of the colour rings are top-down and all are on the right leg.

If you see any ringed birds please record their location as accurately as possible (ideally GPS), the date and time of sighting, ring colour, letters on the ring (if legible) and age class (juvenile or immature). If a bird is found dead, please also record the number of the metal ring. 

Please send the information to Davide Gaglio:

Remember to always submit colour ringed bird records to SAFRING as well by clicking here

Thanks for your help!

website by michael.brooks
tel. +27 (21) 650 4751 email. michael.brooks[@]