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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).

Our Vision and Mission

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.


Visiting Lesser Spotted Eagle from Slovakia
Dane Paijmans (2015-03-25)

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In January during a trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana, Gavin & Marjorie Blair were fortunate enough to take a few photos of this Lesser Spotter Eagle (Aquila pomarina) which was fitted with an orange metal ring. Even though it was a very detailed photo, we at SAFRING had a hard time tracking down the initial ringing record as the ring had no ringing scheme inscribed. However, thanks to Stephanie Tyler who contacted a few ringing schemes we received a result. The individual (BL1109) was one of many chicks ringed in northern Slovakia by ringer Dusan Karaska in July 2012. This project has been ongoing since 2008 and further details can be seen by clicking here or here.

Although this species is rated Least Concern by the IUCN we currently only have 18 records of in our database. This is predominantly due to the fact that this species does not breed in Southern Africa and only visits the northern parts during their non-breeding season. Their current breeding range is mostly in Eastern Europe (click here for a map) near forest edges with a high prey abundance. If you happen to be in their non-breeding range and are on the look for one the best time would be between November and March.

The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Gavin & Marjorie Blair from Gavin Blair Safaris.
The additional information is taken from the IUCN website and for further reading on the Lesser Spotted Eagle please click here
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Longevity of the Common Waxbill
Dane Paijmans (2015-03-18)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Common Waxbill. There have many retraps and recoveries for this species so we have a great source of data for our longevity records. Even so the longevity could be greater than calculated as this individual was ringed as an adult and only ever retrapped. Similar to the longevity of its cousin the Blue Waxbill (AD11424) this species should easily reach over 10 years old. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
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    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Estrildidae
             Genus: Estrilda
  9 years (Roberts 7)
  >8.67 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Estrilda astrild   X68941
  Common name   Sample size
 Common Waxbill   Ringed: 21854      Retrapped: 1859
  Recovered: 70 Total: 23783
Longevity of the Cape Bulbul
Dane Paijmans (2015-03-11)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Cape Bulbul. After raising an injured bulbul chick some years ago I had personal reasons for calculating this longevity. I am happy to see that they live in excess of ten years and as this longevity record was only ever retrapped, I have hope my little friend may still be out there with many grand children. A more recent record is that of BD00938 which looks to be on its way to becoming our new longevity record for this species. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Pycnonotidae
             Genus: Pycnonotus
  7.5 years (Roberts 7)
  >11.35 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Pycnonotus capensis   BB09354
  Common name   Sample size
 Cape Bulbul   Ringed: 9263      Retrapped: 561
  Recovered: 70 Total: 9894
Longevity of the African Snipe
Dane Paijmans (2015-03-04)

This week’s longevity record looks at the African Snipe. There have been very few retraps or recoveries for this species which means that the calculate longevity of 7y 10m 9d is likely a good few years off. If their cousins the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) (longevity record >16 years, BTO record) are anything to go on, African Snipes should have the potential to live a long life of ±20 years. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Charadriiformes
       Family: Scolopacidae
             Genus: Gallinago
  n/a (Roberts 7)
  7.84 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Gallinago nigripennis   D58113
  Common name   Sample size
 African Snipe   Ringed: 1006      Retrapped: 20
  Recovered: 4 Total: 1030
Longevity of the Barn Swallow
Dane Paijmans (2015-02-25)

This week’s longevity record looks at the Barn Swallow. These little birds travel vast distances and many of our rings have been recovered across Europe and the UK. This individual is no different as it was initially ringed in Bloemfontein and recovered in Warton (England) 9479 km away. As this Barn Swallow was first ringed as an adult it is likely older than the calculated 9y 4m 25d. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

    Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family: Hirundinidae
             Genus: Hirundo
  17 years (Roberts 7)
  >9.39 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Hirundo rustica   AF96858
  Common name   Sample size
 Barn Swallow   Ringed: 177541      Retrapped: 897
  Recovered: 607 Total: 179045
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