The South African Bird Ringing Unit


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SAFRING Stories

Ringed "Elegant" Tern in Rooi Els

Dane Paijmans (2017-03-16)


If you haven't been keeping up to date with Trevor Hardakers Rare Bird News Report (Facebook Group, Google Group) then the recent Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) sightings may come as a surprise, and it is likely you have already missed out on a chance to view these two individuals. As one of the birds seen at Rooi Els, Western Cape was colour ringed, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the details discovered.

Sightings were reported as follows; two possible Elegant Terns were sighted and photographed at Rooi Els River mouth by Kevin Drummond-Hay on March 2nd. One of the birds was colour ringed (Right leg: metal over white; left leg: green over yellow) while the other did not have rings. The non-ringed individual remained at the Rooi Els River mouth while the ringed individual moved across False Bay and was seen again by Howard Langley in Buffels Bay on March 5th. Thanks to Julien Gernigon at the French Ringing Scheme in Paris, we were able to trace the ringed birds origins to France (Metal Ring: FT67249)

These sightings are very interesting as the home range occupied by Elegant Terns is fairly restricted to the west coast (Pacific Ocean side) of the Americas. There has been a long standing debate about a possible population in western Europe however. This population has been documented since the 70's and as the birds looked very similar to Elegant Terns they were believed to be either hybrid/backcrosses of orange-billed Royal Tern or actual Elegant Terns. In an attempt to end this argument once and for all DNA from a number of individuals was analysed with the use of multilocus barcoding. This Study confirmed that some of the birds were in fact Elegant Terns although due to certain phenotypical traits some tern experts still remain unconvinced.

This background in important to understand as the ringed individual seen recently was one of the birds sampled during the genetic study. This individual was initially ringed on July 3rd, 2003 in Banc d'Arguin, France by Julien Gernigon. After being ringed this bird was seen many times; predominantly in its breeding ground in Banc d'Arguin but also Spain. In March 2005 it was reported in South Africa for the first time by Tony Tree at Kromme Estuary, Eastern Cape. At the time it was reported as a hybrid (Elegant x Sandwich Tern) due to the pink colouring underneath (true Elegant Terns are white). This less 'classic' appearance has lead to additional debate even after the genetic results were published. To read more on this individual please click here and read bird C's description.

The SAFRING database has only 2 other reports of Elegant Terns, neither of which were ringed in South Africa. This means that any additional reports are very important and if you are able to sight any ringed individuals, whether colour rings or metal, please contact us as SAFRING with the details (email or online). We at SAFRING really appreciate all the effort of ringers and the general public, and would like to thank everyone that has taken part in ringing and resighting in Southern Africa. The photos shown in the image accompanied belong to Julien Gernigon and Howard Langley.

Top ringer: Ursula Franke-Bryson

Dieter Oschadleus (2017-02-10)


Ursula started ringing in South Africa in 2002, after many training sessions at Wakkerstroom and with individual ringers. Ursula and her husband Tom live in Germany but spend a lot of their time in southern Africa, especially Namibia. She has now ringed over 50000 birds in Africa, probably more than any other single ringer. Barberspan and Ocean and Coasts teams have ringed a lot more than this, but we do not know the totals for individual team members. Ursula has ringed 518 species in African countries, and this number is only surpassed by Malcolm Wilson. Ursula’s top species is the Lark-like Bunting with over 11000 ringed, followed by Cape Sparrow. Ursula has also supported SAFRING with many financial donations over the years. Ringing is not a competition for most birds or species ringed, and we value all data. However, Ursula’s achievement deserves recognition.

Estonian Osprey in KwaZulu-Natal

Dane Paijmans (2017-02-06)


We received an interesting recovery recently from one of our ADU members; Frank Rautenbach. This sighting is not only interesting due to it being one of only a few Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) records, but also due the fact that this is the first SAFRING recorded Osprey from Estonia.

This individual was found by Frank in Mtunzini, KwaZulu-Natal on January 27, 2017. Sadly the Osprey was injured and was later euthanized. This did give Frank a good view of the leg rings and meant the initial ringing scheme was easily found; this was identified as the Matsalu Bird Ringing Centre based in Läänemaa, Estonia. The Osprey was initially ringed at Tartumaa, Vara, Praaga in Estonia by a researcher named Joosep Tuvi (Click Here for some project information). This individual was ringed as a chick on July 13, 2016 making it little over 6 months old when found. Even at this young age it was still able to travel this great distance (>9725 km), which is the greatest distance reported to date by the Matsalu Bird Ringing Centre for an Estonian Osprey. Please Click Here to view this record online. Of the other 21 foreign Osprey resightings/recoveries in our database most originated from Finland with a few coming from Germany.

We at SAFRING really appreciate all the effort of ringers and the general public, and would like to thank everyone that has taken part in ringing and resighting in Southern Africa. If you have any unreported resightings/recoveries please contact us at SAFRING with the details or submit them online.
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New longevity record for the Red-winged Starling

Dane Paijmans (2016-11-22)


A resighting of an old colour ringed Red-winged Starling (Onychognathus morio) (age: 18y 2m; ring number: D22802) (seen in the photo) was made near our offices here at UCT early last year. At the time I was a little apprehensive on verifying this record. Even though the colour ring combination was clear and easily matched to the individual, I was only able to see a few of the metal ring digits. Being that this would have been a new longevity at the time and that most colour rings do not last this long, I marked this individual as an unconfirmed sighting. Earlier this year the sighting was substantiated however when an older recovery (our new longevity) was reported with similar colour rings (a different combination).

The recovery was reported by a veterinary surgeon in the Southern Suburbs, Cape Town. The bird was injured and later euthanized on March 27, 2016. As it was initially ringed on April 4, 1997 it had a calculated minimum longevity of 19 years. Both of these individuals were part of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology's Red-winged Starling Project. This project was started in the 1990's by Morne du Plessis and ran for over eight years, recording the breeding and movements of this species on the University of Cape Town's Upper Campus. Although this project was not published it collected some valuable data of which a summary can be seen in Promerops 263, page 16.

As the longevity individual was initially ringed as a chick and ultimately recovered (recorded as deceased) this record will not surpass itself. The individual I saw however may still have a chance of exceeding the current longevity as it was first ringed as an adult and resighted looking active and healthy. If this individual is seen again it will become our new longevity record as it was first ringed in January 1997. Including our two old records; there were 270 Red-winged Starlings ringed on upper campus during the project (of the total 2830 ringed, 122 re-trapped and 120 recovered across Southern Africa). If you feel you know of an older record or come across and colour/metal ringed individuals please contact us with the details.
The photo included with this article is credited to myself and may be a little blurry.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family:  Sturnidae
             GenusOnychognathus
  7.5 years (Roberts 7)
  19.00 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Onychognathus morio D22870
  Common name   Sample size
 Red-winged Starling   Ringed: 2830  Retrapped: 122
  Recovered: 120  Total: 3072

Longevity record for the Bearded Vulture

Dane Paijmans (2016-11-10)


A record previously overlooked during our vulture longevity stories was that of the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). The SAFRING database has only 47 records in total for this species, and of these there is only one retrap/recovery (this longevity record). This low record number is understandable owing to an estimated population of only 100 breeding pairs in South Africa. The global population is estimated at 2000-10000 individuals (an estimated 1,300-6,700 mature individuals) [ref]. As a result of this low global population and the current decline in numbers this species is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. The major factors in this decline are reduced food availability, persecution, power line/ wind turbine collisions and poisoning.

Our longevity record was first ringed as an adult by Mr CJ Brown at Giants Castle Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal in January 22, 1981. It was recovered 17 kilometres away in Kamberg Nature Reserve on October 14, 1981 by Dr D Johnson of the Natal Parks Board. This record is quite old and although ringing and research has occurred more recently, no resightings of previously ringed birds were documented. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The image included with this article is accredited to Dylan Burmester and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Accipitriformes
       Family:  Accipitridae
             GenusGypaetus
  n/a (Roberts 7)
  10.73 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Gypaetus barbatus G15517
  Common name   Sample size
 Bearded Vulture   Ringed: 46  Retrapped: 0
  Recovered: 1  Total: 47

New longevity record for the Rock Kestrel

Dane Paijmans (2016-10-14)


A new longevity record was recently reported for the Rock Kestrel (Falco rupicolus). This individual was resighted most recently by its initial ringer Dr Anthony Van Zyl. It was seen on September 25th, 2016 in the same quarry (Dorstberg Quarry) it was ringed in; on June 17th, 2007. As this individual was initially ringed as an adult and was last seen alive; it would likely be older than the calculated age of 9 years 3 months and 13 days. This Rock Kestrel was ringed as part of a study looking at the population dynamics of the Rock Kestrel on the Cape Peninsula and forms part of the Migrating Kestrel Project; one of the projects run by the Birds of Prey Working Group, Endangered Wildlife Trust. At her last sighting she doing well and was incubating eggs in the quarry. As she was colour ringed during the initial ringing (Black over Green) she is easily distinguished and has been seen on one other occasion near Spes Bona Road, Durbanville on the January 9th, 2016 by Cathy Kent. There are a number of other individuals in our database aged at ±8 years old (one of which is reported in Roberts 7). As many individuals were colour ringed at a similar time, please keep an eye out for them so that we can expect to see other records soon.
If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The great photo included with this article is accredited to Peter and Sandra Greaves and was linked from BirdPix.

  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Falconiformes
       Family:  Falconidae
             Genus: Falco
  8 (Roberts 7)
  >9.28 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Falco rupicolus 5H35326
  Common name   Sample size
 Rock Kestrel   Ringed: 1681  Retrapped: 36
  Recovered: 41  Total: 1758

New longevity record for the Lappet-Faced Vulture

Sarah Catto (2016-09-23)


A great sighting was recently reported to us from Coen van den Berg, who spotted a number of ringed and/or tagged vultures feeding on a Zebra carcass at Sable Dam in Kruger National Park. Among these birds was a Lappet-Faced Vulture with a SAFRING ring (G19378) who was initially ringed as a nestling by Dr Pat Benson on October 23rd, 1992. Coen saw the individual on the 2nd September 2016, meaning this bird is nearly 24 years old! 

SAFRING's previous longevity record for the Lappet-Faced Vulture was just under 10 years in the wild (Ring: G00247), and Roberts' maximum longevity is 23 years for a captive bird. So this was an exciting record for us, oustripping both of these and with the possibility of further extension in age. This bird was initially fitted with wing tags which have since come off, and it was only through Coen's great photography and a bit of luck that the ring number was legible. 

If you feel you know of an older record for Lappet-Faced Vultures, please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The great photo accompanying this article is accredited to Coen van den Berg and was linked from BirdPix.

SAFRING Longevity record of the Glossy Ibis

Dane Paijmans (2016-08-30)


After calculating the longevities of two of the South Africa ibis species, I figured that I ought to do the rest as well. This week I will be looking at the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus). Similar to the African Sacred and Hadeda Ibis, this record has been held for many years (1988; Ring: 710876). The individual was initially ringed on December 4th, 1971 and recovered on April 1st, 1988. The individual was found at Brakpan Dam (by a member of public; Pieter Potgieter), 9 km from its intial ringing/ hatching site at Westdene Pan, Benoni. As this individual was ringed as a chick it would not have been much older than the calculated age of 16 years 4 months. The cause of death is unknown as no details were reported at the time. As this species is known to occur in many parts of the world, I was able to find a greater longevity record from the United States of America (21 years Ref ). Greater yet was a captive bred individual that was reported to have reached 26 years 9 months and 26 days Ref. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The great photo included with this article is accredited to V Jessnitz and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Pelecaniformes
       Family:  Threskiornithidae
             Genus: Plegadis
  13 years (Roberts 7)
  16.33 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Plegadis falcinellus 710876
  Common name   Sample size
 Glossy Ibis   Ringed: 634  Retrapped: 0
  Recovered: 10  Total: 644

Longevity record of the Hadeda Ibis

Dane Paijmans (2016-08-19)


Continuing on with our ibis longevities, I thought we could take a look at my personal 3 am alarm clock; the Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). The longevity record calculated for this species is another older one from 1999 (Ring: 836378). This individual was initially ringed on February 20th, 1989 and recovered on July 11th, 1999. It was initially ringed as a juvenile at CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) in Yellowwood Park, KZN. After being attacked by a dog, it was then returned to CROW over ten years later. Through some great work and effort it was rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Since its release this individual has not been reported again. The next oldest individual we have record of reached 9 years old, with a number of other records falling into this similar age group. As a fair number of chicks have been ringed since 2006, for a colour ringing project in the southern suburbs, Cape Town (Colour-ringing of Hadeda Ibis on the Cape Peninsula), there should be more decade old individuals appearing, and this longevity may soon be bested.
If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The great photo included with this article is accredited to Desire and Gregg Darling and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Pelecaniformes
       Family:  Threskiornithidae
             Genus: Bostrychia
  n/a (Roberts 7)
  >10.39 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Bostrychia hagedash 836378
  Common name   Sample size
 Hadeda Ibis   Ringed: 870  Retrapped: 1063
  Recovered: 39  Total: 1972

Longevity record of the African Sacred Ibis

Dane Paijmans (2016-08-11)


After recieving an interesting African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) recovery, I decided to take a look at the longevity records of this species. The record calculated is an old one from 1974 (Ring: 52601770). The individual was initially ringed on December 20th, 1952 and recovered on January 26th, 1974. This individual was found at Aasvoelkrans, Rustenburg, 134 km from its intial ringing/ hatching site; Modderdam, Benoni. As this individual was ringed as a chick it would not have been much older than the calculated record (21y 1m 12d). The death of this individual was caused by a collision with a wire so it may have still reached an older age if it had died naturally. The next oldest individual reached 16 years old, with a number of other records exceeding 15 years. As a large number of chicks have been ringed over the years through colour ringing projects (such as the Robben Island Colour Ringing Project) there may be many more "old" individuals still out there waiting to be seen. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The great photo included with this article is accredited to F Rautenbach and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Pelecaniformes
       Family:  Threskiornithidae
             Genus: Threskiornis
  21 years (Roberts 7)
  21.11 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Threskiornis aethiopicus 52601770
  Common name   Sample size
 African Sacred Ibis   Ringed: 8836  Retrapped: 98
  Recovered: 343  Total: 9277

New Longevity record of the Southern Red Bishop

Dane Paijmans (2016-07-06)


After one of Peter Dearloves' regular ringing trips to the Dundee Sewage Works he noticed an interesting retrap of a Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix). This individual was initially ringed in the Dundee quarry (the other side of town) on December 20, 2000 by Dieter Oschadleus. Being retrapped on February 25, 2016 made this individual over 15 years old. This record easily exceeded our previous longevity record for this species (13 years 6 months 4 days (Ring: F65391)) and is now our new longevity record. This previous longevity record was held by an individual from the Darvill Sewage Works, Pietermaritzburg. In both cases the birds were retrapped so further extensions to their ages are possible. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The great photo included with this article is accredited to Lea Steen and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Passeriformes
       Family:  Ploceidae
             Genus: Euplectes
  12.7 years (Roberts 7)
  15.19 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Euplectes orix FA05661
  Common name   Sample size
 Southern Red Bishop   Ringed: 120494  Retrapped: 5324
  Recovered: 257  Total: 126075

Request for info on oral fistulas in birds

Sarah Catto (2016-06-09)


We have received a request from Dr Jim Reynolds of the Centre for Ornithology at the University of Birmingham for any information ringers may have concerning sublingual oral fistulas in wild birds. This condition has been considered a rare one and involves an abnormality where the skin and muscle of the lower mandible is missing, and the tongue protrudes through this opening, often remaining there permanently. 

Jim is embarking on a study of this condition (attempting to determine its prevalence across all bird species), which he documented a few years ago in two seabird species (Sooty Tern and Masked Booby) on Ascension Island. Apart from these species, oral fistulas have only been described in two other species, first in the 'Vulnerable' Stitchbird and later in Eurasian Griffon Vultures. 

Jim asks that if you have ever encountered a bird with an oral fistula, to complete a Reporting Form with as much information as possible, and send this to him with any pictures you may have. See this Information Sheet which contains more info about the condition, and download this Reporting Sheet which you can fill in and return by email to Jim (email address on the form).  

You can also use this link provided by the University of Birmingham to access all the information and forms.

Peregrine Falcon collision with window

Sarah Catto (2016-06-01)


We received a sad recovery report on the 8th January 2016 from Kathy Marsburg regarding a young Peregrine Falcon who had collided with a reflective window of a building in Brackenfell. This female individual was ringed by Andrew Jenkins as a nestling on the 7th December 2015, meaning this was one of her very early flights (see here for ringing record). Kathy told us that the reflective coating on their office windows has often led to birds flying into them, and that during breeding season many smaller birds such as Cape White-eyes and sunbirds have 'protracted fights' with their reflections.

Clear and reflective panes of glass/plastic used as windows have been claimed as the second-greatest threat to wild birds (after habitat destruction). This is because birds behave as if the glass is invisible to them, causing collision casualties and fatalities. Even when the collision isn't fatal and only stuns or concusses the bird, this leaves them especially vulnerable to predators [ref]. Despite the widespread occurence of bird-window collisions, this source of bird fatalities receives little attention in terms of trying to mitigate its impact. 

Short-term solutions that can be implemented in your own home include covering problem windows in garden netting/insect screening, and moving feeding stations as close as possible to the window. This prevents birds from being able to build up enough speed to injure themselves if there is a collision. A hopeful long-term solution involves UV reflecting and absorbing patterns visible to birds but not to humans that can be used to cover whole windows[ref]

Although this is an unfortunate recovery event, all bird recovery records provide us with important info regarding migration, breeding grounds, distribution, and many others. Human impacts are also important to document so please report any ringed birds you may find having collided with a window to SAFRING using this link.

The picture associated with this story is credited to Riaan Jacobs and was sourced from BirdPix.

 

Longevity of the White-headed Vulture

Dane Paijmans (2016-05-26)


To complete our analysis of the SAFRING vulture longevity records we have one final species to calculate; the White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis). With an estimated global population of between 10,500-18,750 individuals this species is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN redlist[ref]. The major factors for this decline are similar to that of the other vultures (previous Safring Stories), and include reduced food availability (carrion), hunting for trade (muti), persecution, power line collisions poisoning (accidental strychnine poisoning) and loss of habitat.

Our longevity record for this vulture species is our lowest at nearly six years. This individual was first ringed as a chick in Gonarezhou Game Reserve, Zimbabwe by Dr Peter Mundy in 1979. As we only have 89 records (85 initial, 2 retraps and 2 recoveries) for this species, the calculated longevity is likely to be very inaccurate. The longevity records for each of the other vultures in our database can be read by clicking the links (Hooded Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Cape Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture). Although Southern Africa is host to a few other vulture species, Safring does not currently have any suitable records to calculate the longevities. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The photo included with this article is accredited to Dave Rimmer and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Accipitriformes
       Family:  Accipitridae
             Genus: Trigonoceps
  6+ years (Roberts 7)
  5.68 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Trigonoceps occipitalis G11855
  Common name   Sample size
 White-headed Vulture   Ringed: 85  Retrapped: 2
  Recovered: 2  Total: 89

RIP Methuselah

Dane Paijmans (2016-03-23)


In January 2015 we reported on a resighting of "Methuselah" our oldest Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) (Safring Report). Sadly Methuselah was reported to us as a recovery on the 26th November 2015. After an autopsy it was established that he/she died of natural causes as there were only post-mortem wounds.

Since Methuselah was initially ringed as a chick in December 1972 he/she has been resighted a total of 16 times, in and around Walvis Bay. As this initial ringing would have been done shortly before fledging (fledging occurs 75 to 85 days after hatching), this final recovery makes Methusalah an estimated 43 years of age. This age falls 27 years short of the oldest known wild bird, as this title belongs to "Wisdom" a Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) currently breeding at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (Report).

If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Mark Boorman.

  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Pelecaniformes
       Family: Pelecanidae
             Genus: Pelecanus
  28 years (Roberts 7)
  >42 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Pelecanus onocrotalus   H01024
  Common name   Sample size
 Great White Pelican   Ringed: 1189      Retrapped: 119
  Recovered: 169 Total: 1477

New longevity record for the Crowned Lapwing

Dane Paijmans (2016-03-11)


We recently received an interesting resighting of a Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus) from Mr Leon Swart (photographed in Rietvlei Nature Reserve) on the 30th December 2015. Even though this was a resighting, we were able to verify the ring number as photos were submitted (the numbers 36194 were visible), and through a process of elimination the prefix “D” could be determined. This individual was first ringed as an adult by Mr Andrew Tucker (from Pretoria) exactly 15 years and 1 day before this resighting, on the 29th December 2000. This is an important resighting as it has nearly doubled our previous longevity record for this species (longevity: 7y 11m 19d; ring number: 524023). Over the last 15 years this individual has not travelled very far as it was first ringed in Rietvlei Nature Reserve and was seen only 2km from this site.

As this individual was re-sighted and initially ringed as an adult the potential for a greater longevity is very likely. Of all the Vanellus species in our database this individual is the 4th oldest as the Long-toed Lapwing (Vanellus crassirostris) (longevity: 16y 8m 3d; ring number: 524023) and African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus) (longevity: 21y 7m 14d; ring number: 524023) have individuals older than 15 years. Including our record holder there have been 38 Crowned Lapwing ringed in Rietvlei (of the total 1961 ringed, 110 re-trapped and 27 recovered Crowned Lapwing across Southern Africa) since 1998. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The photo included with this article is accredited to Leon Swart.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Charadriiformes
       Family:  Charadriidae
             GenusVanellus
  8 years (Roberts 7)
  15.01 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Vanellus coronatus D36194
  Common name   Sample size
 Crowned Lapwing   Ringed: 1961  Retrapped: 110
  Recovered: 27  Total: 2098

Visiting Russian Osprey

Dane Paijmans (2016-03-02)


We received an interesting sighting recently from one of our ADU members; Michael Buckham. This sighting is not only interesting due to it being one of only a few Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) records, but also due the fact that this is the first SAFRING recorded Osprey from Russia.

This individual was photographed by Michael in the West Coast National Park on 13 February 2016, shortly after it flew off with a fish. Although the photo was a little blurry and the bird only had colour rings, we still made an good attempt at tracking down the ringing scheme responsible. With the help of the European Colour Birding website and some of the foreign Osprey ringers we were able to establish that this individual was ringed in Russia. We contacted the Russian Ringing Scheme with the photo and details and soon received a very positive response. Even from our blurry images they were able to identify the individual as one tagged near the Onezhskoe Lake in the Vologda region on the 11 July 2015. Please Click Here to view this record online. This individual was ringed as a juvenile and has travelled over 10500 km in the last 7 months to reach us here in South Africa. Of the other 13 foreign resightings/recoveries in our database most originated from Finland with a few coming from Germany.

Other sites where the Russian ringed Ospreys have been resighted can be seen on the Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network site by visiting their species data page. Select the Pandion haliaetus option and they will be displayed on the map. We at SAFRING really appreciate all the effort of ringers and the general public, and would like to thank everyone that has taken part in ringing and resighting in Southern Africa. If you feel you know of an older record or have any unreported resightings/recoveries please contact us at SAFRING with the details or submit them online.
The photos are accredited to Michael Buckham and Miroslav Babushkin.
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Printed Bird Ringers Data Book Available

Dane Paijmans (2016-02-22)


One of our ringers has taken initiative and designed and printed a great addition to any ringers tool box; a bird ringers data book with all tables laid out for ease of use.

This is a hard cover A5 book (as seen in the image) with 80 pages allowing a maximum of 2000 ring records to be stored. It is a great size and will save a lot of time as you won't need to draw in all the lines and headers.

This is an early prototype so design changes can be made (table headers, page numbers etc), and the ringer heading all this up is hoping to get some copies made using waterproof paper for those ringers in our wetter parts of the country.

A number of ringers have used it so far and seem very happy, and if you would like a copy please contact us at SAFRING. As there are very limited numbers available a waiting list may need to be made. As this is still a growing idea the books are offered at cost price to encourage feedback and use.

Cost R90

Longevity of the Hooded Vulture

Dane Paijmans (2016-02-19)


Carrying on with the vulture longevities we will be taking a look at the longevity of one of the smaller species; the Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus). With an estimated global population of 197,000 individuals (with a extremely rapid decline) this species is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN redlist[ref]. The major factors for this decline are similar to that of the other vultures (previous Safring Stories), and include reduced food availability (carrion), hunting for trade (muti), persecution, power line collisions poisoning (accidental strychnine poisoning) and loss of habitat.

Although we only have 84 ringed, 4 retrapped and 2 recoveries for this species we had luck and their longevity is greater than most other (better documented) species. The longevity record for this species was a recovery (found deceased as a result of accidental poisoning) by a member of public and initially ringed as a juvenile by Dr P Mundy, in May 1974. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The included with this article is accredited to M. Booysen and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Accipitriformes
       Family:  Accipitridae
             Genus: Necrosyrtes
  21+ years (Roberts 7)
  21.35 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Necrosyrtes monachus 914230
  Common name   Sample size
 Hooded Vulture   Ringed: 84  Retrapped: 4
  Recovered: 2  Total: 90

Longevity of the Lappet-faced Vulture

Dane Paijmans (2016-02-09)


This week we will get back to vultures by taking a look at the longevity of the Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus). With an estimated global population of only 8,500 individuals (with a decreasing trend) this species has good reason to be listed as Endangered by the IUCN redlist[ref]. The major factors for this decline are similar to that of the White-backed and Cape Vultures, and include reduced food availability (carrion), hunting for trade (muti), persecution, power line collisions and poisoning (accidental strychnine poisoning). On reviewing our database, most recorded deaths appear to be a result of poisoning (either intentional or unintentional) with a very low number of power line collisions. One individual was recorded as shot while two appeared to have drowned.

Our longevity record for this species was sadly a recovery (found deceased) and initially ringed as a chick by the recovery correspondent Peter Bridgeford, in October 2003. One other record (ring number: G20532) within the SAFRING database may be older than this individual, at around 14 years, although as it was recorded as having died over 6 months before the ring was recovered, it was not possible to certify the age. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The included with this article is accredited to T. Hardaker and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Accipitriformes
       Family:  Accipitridae
             Genus: Torgos
  23 years (captive) (Roberts 7)
  9.83 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Torgos tracheliotus G20685
  Common name   Sample size
 Lappet-faced Vulture   Ringed: 2109  Retrapped: 134
  Recovered: 57  Total: 2300

New New Longevity record of the Martial Eagle

Dane Paijmans (2016-02-02)


In September 2014 we announced a new longevity record for the Martial Eagle. That new record belonged to an individual that was recovered after being electrocuted on power lines in the Kruger National Park (ring number: G19094 ). As it was an adult at the time of initial ringing the age was estimated to be over 27 years. Although the individual may have been older than that, no guarantee could be made. After receiving another Martial Eagle recovery in December last year (on a farm along the Nossob River, Namibia) we discovered our record had been beaten. The recovery was from an individual ringed as a juvenile in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in 1984, which made our new longevity record for this species a confirmed age of 31.44 years. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

The image within this article is accredited to P Botha and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Accipitriformes
       Family: Accipitridae
             Genus: Polemaetus
  22 years (Roberts 7)
  >31.44 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Polemaetus bellicosus G01714
  Common name   Sample size
 Martial Eagle   Ringed: 284  Retrapped: 4
  Recovered: 23  Total: 311

Oldest Ringed Grey Heron in Southern Africa

Laurie Johnson (2016-01-20)


This week we will be looking at the Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) for which a new longevity record has been recorded. The Grey Heron has a large population and is found in temperate Europe, Asia and parts of Africa, in shallow waters near trees; as it is an arboreal nester.  The estimated population size is between 790 000 and 3700 000 individuals (ref).

A re-sighting of a ringed Grey Heron earlier this year has seen the longevity record being broken by an individual spotted at Olifantsbos on the 2nd of January.  The combination of the metal ring on the left leg and the red colour ring on the right leg confirms that this bird was ringed in 2003 at Rondevlei Nature Reserve as a juvenile. This makes the individual 13 years as of October 2015 and the oldest ringed Grey Heron in South Africa that SAFRING has on record.  Our previous longevity record for this species was 11 years and 9 months. If you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

This record breaking individual is still alive and could possibly break its own record by the end of the year; so please report any sighting of these and other colour ringed (here) and ringed birds (here) that you come across to us. This is a great example of how ringing birds and colour ringing projects are able to gather new information on various aspects of species ecology; in this case their longevity!

Thank you to Simon Fogarty for reporting this Grey Heron which was ringed by Dalton Gibbs. The image used in this article comes from Michael Brooks and was linked from BirdPix 

  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Pelecaniformes
       Family:Ardeidae
             Genus: Ardea
   11.75 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
 Ardea cinerea   Not available
  Common name   Sample size
 Grey Heron   Ringed: 504     Retrapped: 11
  Recovered: 20 Total: 535

New Ringer Tool: You are now able to Edit

Dane Paijmans (2016-01-13)


After months and months of sweat and tears we have finally activated the record editing tool for registered ringers. This tool will allow you to edit your own records through a fairly simply search menu. This page will be undergoing some edits in future so we are happy to receive any comments and improvements.

To access the editing tool, you will need to first login on the SAFRING home page.

  • Then click on the "Ringers" tab at the top (seen the image)
  • Choose the "View/Edit Records" option from the drop down menu, and you will be taken to our new Ringer's Summary Page
  • On this page there are three ways to search for your ring records
    1. Using the map: This map will display all your records (based on location). If you click a point it will produce a list of all the records within that coordinate. If you happen to have a lot of points in the ocean you may have previously uploaded the wrong coordinates, and will need to edit each record found here.
    2. Using the drop down lists: There are three drop down lists (Location, Year and Species). You can click one or all of these to refine your search. Once done you can click search and a list of these records will be produced. Look out for extreme dates which fall outside of your ringing years (eg. 1900) as these may need to be corrected
    3. Using the ring search: If you know exactly which ring you are looking for then you can use this function. Just enter it in and it should appear (as long as it is linked to you)
  • Once you have your list (which is usually summarised to species or coord) you can click on one of them.
  • Another list will be produced with a summary of each ring record. Choose either View (to view the record) or Edit (to start editing the record)
  • If you choose to edit a record you will be taken to a new page that will show the entire record (including all the columns that you may not use). You can fill in additional information at this point or just make the minor changes needed. Once complete click "Submit" and the edit will be complete
  • Please note that all sections can be edited except for ring number. If you need the ring number changed then you will still need to contact us.


I hope you enjoy this new function, and if you notice any bugs or errors please let us know.

Longevity of the Cape Vulture

Dane Paijmans (2016-01-12)


This week we will be taking a look at the longevity of the Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres). With an estimated global population of only 9400 mature individuals (estimated in 2013 and decreasing rapidly) [ref] this species is already of great concern. The major factors in this decline are similar to that of the White-backed Vulture; reduced food availability (carrion), hunting for trade (muti), persecution, powerline collisions and poisoning. Extensive work is being done to stop this decline by establishing/maintaining vulture restaurants and reducing powerline deaths.

Our longevity record was first ringed as a juvenile and then retrapped alive when it was fitted with a new yellow wing tag (C175) (Click Here to view details of the Limpopo colour tagging project). This means it may be an easy resighting if you happen to be in its range and have a camera handy. Please submit all colour ring/tag sightings (with photos) to us by Clicking Here. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
This amazing image included with this article is accredited to JC van Rensburg and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Accipitriformes
       Family:  Accipitridae
             Genus: Gyps
  21 years (Roberts 7)
  31.22 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Gyps coprotheres G13690
  Common name   Sample size
 Cape Vulture   Ringed: 8172  Retrapped: 684
  Recovered: 651  Total: 9507

Longevity of the White-backed Vulture

Dane Paijmans (2016-01-04)


I hope you have all had a merry festive season full of family, friends and a good helping of bird watching on these warm summer days. We will get the longevity stories for this year started with some of our endangered vultures. First up is the White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus). With an estimated global population of 270,000 individuals (which has decreased over 50% in the last 15 years) [ref] this species is quickly becoming one of great concern. Some of the major factors in this decline are; reduced food availability (carrion), hunting for trade (muti), persecution, powerline collisions and poisoning (this occurs when landowners attempt to poison livestock preditors with poisoned meat).

As a result of this decreased survival we have not recieved a new longevity record for this species in nearly 20 years (despite extensive ringing and monitoring). Our longevity record of 19 years did not have a cause of death recorded, but at this age it is likley natural as the captive individual recorded in Roberts 7 achieved a similar age. Of the 81 ringed birds recovered 20 collided/ or were electrocuted by powerlines, and 11 were poisoned. The ring recovories account for only a small number of total recovories, and the number of non-ringed birds being killed by these two factors are substantially more. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The image within this article is accredited to Joan Young and was linked from BirdPix.
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Falconiformes
       Family:  Accipitridae
             Genus: Gyps
  19.8 years (cap) (Roberts 7)
  19.04 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Gyps africanus G11587
  Common name   Sample size
 White-backed Vulture   Ringed: 5238  Retrapped: 367
  Recovered: 81  Total: 5686

Sad outcome for a visiting Arctic Tern from Iceland

Dane Paijmans (2015-11-02)


We at SAFRING recently received an interesting Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) recovery from our friends at SANCCOB Rehabilitation Centre. Initially thought to be a Common Tern,  it was found weak and exhausted (due to being tangled in plastic) on Kommetjie beach (34 ° 08' S 18 ° 19' E), on the 18 October 2015. It was admitted to SANCCOB but sadly didn't survive due to its poor condition. This record is very interesting as it was intially ringed by the Icelandic Ringing Scheme in Ósland, Höfn, Iceland. This is only the third ring record we have received from Iceland and only the second such record of an Arctic Tern. This individual was ringed as a juvenile on the 13 July 2013 (ring number: 776621), and was not seen again until now.

We would like to thank the Icelandic Ringing Scheme for the initial ring record and SANCCOB for all they do for our seabirds.

Longevity of the Rock Pigeon

Dane Paijmans (2015-10-01)


A common site within most of our cities around the world is the Rock Pigeon or "winged rats" as some people may call them. Their success in these environments is likely due to their ability to adapt so well to our urban expansions that tend to be void of their natural predators and full of discarded food. This has lead to an estimated population of 260 million birds around the world [ref].

Fun Fact: This is well below the world’s most prominent bird species (the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus)) which has an estimated population of over 50 billion individuals (good pub quiz fact).

We at SAFRING do not have a large number of records of Rock Pigeons within our database (primarily as they are listed as invasive on the NEMBA list), so our longevity record may be underestimated. Our longevity record is also a recent one which was ringed as an adult and has yet to be recovered so will likely be older then our calculated age. On average this species lives around 5 years in the wild and up to 15 years in captivity. The maximum international longevity record comes from the United Kingdom where an individual reached 8 years and 1 month [ref]. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
The image within this article is accredited to Andrew Dunn
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  Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
  Order: Columbiformes
       Family: Columbidae
             Genus: Columba
  n/a (Roberts 7)
  >4.6 years (SAFRING)
  Species   Ring Number
  Columba livia 6A03956
  Common name   Sample size
 Rock Pigeon   Ringed: 144  Retrapped: 16
  Recovered: 3  Total: 163

Ring Information Photos

Dane Paijmans (2015-09-04)


We at SAFRING have made a small addition to our ring record page by linking it to Birdpix. This means that it is now possible for ringers to upload their ringing photos to be displayed above the ringing details of each record (by following the instructions below). Non-ringers will also be able to take part by uploading your re-sighting photos and sending us the link when alerting us.


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Upload your ringing data to the SAFRING web.(Only for ringers)

2. Upload 1-3 photos of the ringed bird to Birdpix (part of the ADU Virtual Museum). To do this Login/or sign up to http://vmus.adu.org.za with the same login as for the SAFRING web. Upload your photos and make sure the ring number is mentioned in the Notes - the ring number must be in the SAFRING format, eg 412345 (not 4-12345) or BC12345 (not BC 12345), ie one alpha-numeric number with no spaces or hyphens. There is a pdf help guide on the http://vmus.adu.org.za site if you have not uploaded any photos there before.

3. You will need to wait for the Birdpix panel to accept the record before you will see it (this usually happens within less than a day). Examples of this is ring record: PA06657, 729577, K44381

To see a larger version of the photos, you can click on the image and a new tab opens with the Birdpix site where there is an option to view the photos at highest resolution.

Enjoy this new feature and I look forward to seeing all your interesting photos.
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AFRING News Revamp

Dane Paijmans (2015-08-26)


In 1972 SAFRING produced their first self published journal SAFRING News (seen in this image). This publication continued for the next 30 years fairly unchanged until 2001 when it had a name change and became AFRING News, which finally became the online journal we have today (Click Here).

For just over 40 years SAFRING/AFRING News has been publishing papers containing ringing information about birds. Which have included a variety of interesting ringing trips, interesting captures, faunistic observations relating to ringing, and analyses of ringing data. In total 983 articles (780 SAFRING News and 203 AFRING News) have been published over this time which is a substantial number of very interesting accounts from many of our prominent African ringers/researchers.

Continued interest in this journal has sparked a much needed revamp to our online access as some of the pages have fallen behind in the times and many of the articles were inaccessible. A special thanks goes out to Zephne Bernitz for scanning the Safring News issues a few years ago so that they could be available as free pdfs to ringers and researchers! We have also given the site a revamp and added in some filters to the list to aid in searches.

This project is still underway, and a number of the papers may lead to dead links, so if you come across any of these and have a PDF version of the paper please do not hesitate in sending it through. We do have these records in hard copy as well so if an article is urgently needed (and not found online) please let us know and we will scan it in to make it accessible for you (and everyone else). So please grab a cup of coffee and take your time while having a look through our articles, and if you have any interesting articles of your own to submit, please do so by using the template provided (Template).

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Tern-eating Baboons in Rooi-Els

Christie Craig (2015-08-18)


This week we received an interesting recovery of a Swift Tern from Rooi-Els (Ring number: 5H53976). Helen Jones found the bird beheaded and suspected that it had met the same fate as some previous terns (See Promerops September 2013). Locals have seen baboons taking out terns and eating them. Baboons are omnivores, their diets consist of mainly shoots, fruit, seeds and roots but they will take meat from time to time. Meat is usually taken by males and by the more dominant members of the troop (see article ). There are also records of flamingos being taken as well as ground nesting bird fledglings. This particular bird was a juvenile and it is likely that most terns that are taken by baboons are young birds. If you have witnessed baboons killing and eating birds, we would be interested to hear about it.

Helping SAFRING with Colour Projects

Dane Paijmans (2015-08-03)


Here at the ADU (Animal demography Unit) we promote Citizen Science as a very important means of collecting expansive data sets and improving the spread of knowledge throughout southern Africa. Sadly it is not always possible for citizen scientists to take part in the projects offered by SAFRING as not everyone can get a ringing permit (as it requires a lot of training and time) and looking for dead birds to help with recoveries tends to be a little macabre, and quite disturbing when people see us rummaging around a maggot filled corpse to see if there is a ring.

This does not mean that our non-ringing citizen scientists have nothing to offer us here at SAFRING. We have been placing a lot of effort into coordinating the Colour Projects throughout Southern Africa. Colour Projects are an important method for scientists to monitor the short term movements and population dynamics of focus species or genera. Within southern Africa this is done by attaching either a unique sequence of coloured rings on the birds’ legs, or a numbered tag onto the birds’ wing. This method offers less disturbance to the species than retrapping and allows for easy identification within the field by any observer (whether trained or a novice).

Some of the projects currently being undertaken are:
» the Namibian and Limpopo Vulture projects.
» the Swift Tern project with 500 colour ringed juveniles dispersing from Robben Island each year.
» a demographic study of Black Sparrowhawks across the Cape Peninsula.
» the Martial Eagle project running in The Kruger National Park.
» and various African Oystercatcher projects running across the entire coastline (1, 2, 3).

We also receive a number of foreign sightings such as albatross from oceanic islands and the various tern species visiting from Europe (eg. Lesser Crested Tern).

When a colour ring is seen it is very important that the correct data is collected and sent to us.

For every sighting we need the following information:

  • Colour ring/tag type and the combination of the colour rings (including details on the which legs they were on - including the metal ring) (eg. Left Leg: Red over Yellow; Right Leg: White over metal)
  • Describe the bird in detail and identify the species if you can
  • When and where you saw it (coordinates if possible), also giving the nearest town
  • Details of what the bird was doing (breeding, feeding?)
  • and if possible please take a photo to include.
  • So as a request to all our passionate, dedicated and selfless citizen scientists out there helping on the various ADU projects; please keep an additional eye out for any colour ringed/ tagged birds and report them to us at SAFRING through our "Found a Colour Ring" page. Furthermore, to our colour project coordinators, please ensure your project details are up to date and that all colour ring projects are in our system as an overlap between any of the colour sequences or numbers would jeopardise all the studies involved as uncertainty would arise for each sighting.


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    New SAFRING Website (Under Construction)

    Dane Paijmans (2015-07-22)


    For quite some time (longer than I would like to say) we have been working on our new website. We have tried to put our limited resources to good use to make some necessary improvements to the functionality and aesthetics of our website. Due to these limited resources however this project will be ongoing for quite some time and the site will likely change slightly day to day, as extra pages/options get added and improvements are made. Do not stress however as the primary functions (Uploads, Found a Ring? etc.) should vary very little.

    Some of the new additions to our website are;
    (1) An improved upload system that will give the details of errors made and block any problem records (Click Here)
    (2) A page where online orders can be placed (Click Here)
    (3) An improved "Found a Ring" page as well as a "Found a Colour Ring Page"
    (4) A whole new colour ring/tag project page (Click Here), with separate project information pages (eg. Swift Terns)

    There are also a quite a few unseen additions which aid in order processing and corrections which should hopefully improve in future to allow ringers even more functionality within our website.

    We would like to thank all those who have helped during this process, as web testers and guinea pigs, and if you yourself have any ideas on improvements please let us know by emailing a list through to us at SAFRING. Personally I would also like to give a special thanks to Nosipho Mali, without whom none of this could have happened.

    Longevity of the Malachite Kingfisher

    Dane Paijmans (2015-07-08)


    The longevity record I decided to look into this week is the Malachite Kingfisher. Although this record does not appear to be that impressive (6y 4m 23d) it is one of the oldest records we have for any kingfisher within the SAFRING database. The oldest of these belongs to the Woodland Kingfisher which just exceeds 8 years (ring number: E34901). After looking at kingfisher the recovery data there appears to be a high number (16 of 53 records) of collision related fatalities (windows, cars etc).

    This specific Malachite Kingfisher was initially ringed by Dieter Oschadleus along Ottery Road, Springfield in the Western Cape on 25 September 2008, and retrapped 11 times in the same area over the last 7 years. This individual was initially ringed as an adult and only retrapped so it will be over the calculated age. There is an older record recorded in Roberts 7, although after some effort I was unable to establish the ringing details. If you know the details of this older record please contact us at SAFRING.

    The image within this article is accredited to Andrew Bullmore and comes from MyBirdPatch
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      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Coraciiformes
           Family: Alcedinidae
                 Genus: Alcedo
      >7.5 years (Roberts 7)
      > 6.39 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Alcedo cristata  E16147
      Common name   Sample size
     Malachite Kingfisher   Ringed: 3246  Retrapped: 560
      Recovered: 13  Total: 3819

    New Longevity record of the Eastern Golden (Yellow) Weaver

    Dane Paijmans (2015-07-01)


    On reviewing the longevity records within the SAFRING database I noticed an interesting retrap of an Eastern Golden (Yellow) Weaver by Andrew Pickles. This individual was initially ringed in the Umzumbe River Floodplain, Kwa-Zulu Natal on 7 December 2002 and coincidentally retrapped exactly 12 years later on 7 December 2014. This is a new longevity record for this species and as this individual was initially ringed as an adult and only retrapped it will be over the calculated age of 12 years. The previous longevity record for this species was held by an individual from these same floodplains (click here for article) which lived over 9 years (ring number: BH19329). If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
    The image within this article is from http://weavers.adu.org.za
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      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Ploceidae
                 Genus: Ploceus
      8 years (Roberts 7)
      >12 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Ploceus subaureus BH12812
      Common name   Sample size
     Eastern Golden Weaver   Ringed: 5069  Retrapped: 411
      Recovered: 18  Total: 5498

    Furthest sunbird movement

    Christie Craig (2015-06-24)


    In general sunbirds are known to move little, most recaptures are from the same site that they were ringed at. However sometimes sunbirds are found a fair distance from where they were ringed, one such bird is a Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Nectarinia senegalensis). It was ringed (see record) at Chirawanoo Farm in Zimbabwe and then was found dead two years later at Chegato, Zimbabwe some 360km away. When looking at other records for this particular species, 76% of recaptures are at the site where it was ringed and the average movement for these birds is 10.82km. This makes this particular individual quite unusual. The Scarlet-chested Sunbird is widespread in Africa but occurs mainly in the eastern region of South Africa, with some individuals in the Northern Cape. These birds rely on nectar sources to sustain them but will also feed on arthropods from time to time. It is likely that sunbird movements are driven primarily by nectar availability.

    Sad, but interesting recovery of a Brown Snake-eagle

    Dane Paijmans (2015-06-17)


    We received an interesting but sad recovery of a Brown Snake-eagle from our Facebook page last week (click here for facebook story). As the reporter (Kelvin Lighton Mkandawire) gave an interesting account I felt only his words would give the story justice. Please see his account below:

    "DRAMATIC RING RECOVERY :

    Details on the Recovered Ring - read as follows (INFORM SAFRING - UNIVERSITY CAPE TOWN 9A 30449)

    This steel Ring was found on unidentified raptor that caught a large snake and flew with it, while in flight, somehow the snake coiled on one wing of the bird and disrupting the birds flight, as a result of this dramatic scenario both the bird and the snake fell to the ground while locked together, this unusual wrestling encounter that began in the air now continued on the ground, the snake struggling to free its self from the tight grip of the Raptor while the Raptor on the other hand trying to free his entangled wing from the snakes body, the snake taking advantage of its length started pulling the Raptor along with it, unfortunately, the place where they landed from the air was on a dirty road in Simachila Village, this dirty road is one of the most frequented local routes for most people in the area, this means that all this was happening in full view of the so many local people that were present at the time, when all local concluded that this scenario was some form of Witchcraft or at least related (Wizards Fighting in disguised form), one resident came with a Shot Gun and killed both the snake and the bird.

    This spectacle drew so much attention in the area being the first time such an incident happened where a bird and snake would fight so strongly with none of the two being stronger than the other, had it not been for these two being shot at, the fight could have gone on for quite a long time, the two wrestlers now dead, were displayed on the roadside for would be onlookers to catch a glimpse, they were left there until the following day when the villagers decided to burn them, it was at this point when it was discovered that the bird had a Ring on one of its legs, among these villagers was a School Headmaster from Bbakasa Primary School in Mutolanganga Important Bird Area one of the sites where Birdwatch Zambia operates, this is the man who convinced the villagers to remove the Ring before burning it, he learned the importance of bird ringing and ring recoveries from the IBA School Education Program that Birdwatch Zambia runs in IBA Schools in Zambia.

    At this information being availed to them, they chopped off the head of the Raptor, and the leg where the Ring was and gave them to the headmaster who reported the incident to me, I couldn’t ID the bird from the chopped head and leg because they were poorly preserved and got rotten, however, I received the Ring which is at Birdwatch Zambia Offices, this incident happened in Mapanza area of Choma District in Zambia on the 22nd of August 2013."

    This Brown Snake Eagle (ring number :9A30449) was first ringed as an adult by John Robson in Bitterfontein, Steenbokpan on 26 January 2007.

    Although this was a controversial account we still greatly appreciate the information as it is important to get these details no matter what the circumstances. If you happen to know of any similar accounts whether they are deaths related to “muti” collection or individuals being shot as they were pests/fpr food please do let us know by contacting SAFRING or by using our Recovery Page.

    The photo and story accompanied by this article are accredited to Kelvin Lighton Mkandawire.
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    Longevity of the Black-capped Bulbul

    Dane Paijmans (2015-06-10)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Dark-capped Bulbul. A few months ago I calculated the longevity record for a Cape Bulbul which lived in excess of 11 years (ring number: BB09354). On reviewing the other bulbul species in our database I found this longevity bested by a Dark-capped Bulbul ringed and retrapped a number of times by Trevor Snyman in Marionwood Nature Reserve, Pinetown. This individual was first ringed in 1987 as an adult female and since then has been retrapped an additional six times until it was last seen alive in 2002. This makes our longevity record over 14 years 10 months and 23 days. 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: Pycnonotidaee
                 Genus: Pycnonotus
      12 years (Roberts 7)
      >14.88 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
    Pycnonotus barbatus BB42940
      Common name   Sample size
     Dark-capped Bulbul   Ringed: 26714      Retrapped: 1737
      Recovered: 180 Total: 28631

    New longevity record for the White-breasted Cormorant

    Dane Paijmans (2015-06-03)


    We recently received an interesting recovery of an older White-breasted Cormorant (ring number: 978110) by Mr Albert Schultz from Port Elizabeth. This individual was first ringed as a chick by Dr Paul Martin in the same area some 21 years 9 months before. I was interested to see that this record bested both our previous SAFRING longevity record (ring number: 902745) and the Roberts 7 longevity by 6 months. Our database did have one additional record that was older (25y1m27d; ring: 901054), although as this ring was recovered without the attached bird the record could not be counted as a longevity. 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: Suliformes
           Family: Phalacrocoracidae
                 Genus: Phalacrocorax
      21.3 years (Roberts 7)
      21.79 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Phalacrocorax lucidus   978110
      Common name   Sample size
     White-breasted Cormorant   Ringed: 4506      Retrapped: 27
      Recovered: 710 Total: 5243

    Urban Pull Factors for Hadedas

    Christie Craig (2015-05-27)


    The Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) is a conspicuous bird, due to its large size and distinctive call. They are mainly sedentary with occasional movements in relation to rainfall. Our furthest map .

    Some reasons for this include, reduced persecution after legislation was passed in 1934 to protect wild birds from hunting, an increase in alien trees which are suitable for roosting and an increase in dams being built and irrigation (for a full discussion of these see the following article). This expansion is not unique to our Hadedas but has also been seen in other ibises, for example the African Scared Ibis in Europe, the Glossy ibis in North America and the Australian White Ibis in Australia. Hadedas feed on invertebrates, mainly earthworms, by probing the ground. It is thought that soil moisture plays a major role in foraging time for Hadedas (see article). Res Altwegg and Doug Harebottle started a colour ringing project a few years back to try explain the factors that have encouraged the expansion of Hadedas in the Cape region (see page for further details ). Their research and other research linked to this project show that in dry soil Hadedas will need to forage for up to 12 hours a day to get enough energy, which then limits breeding.

    Where soils are wetter, earthworms and other invertebrates are forced to move closer to the surface to get enough oxygen, which them easy prey for a Hadeda. It is thought that irrigated fields, gardens and agricultural land provide optimal foraging grounds for Hadedas. As Hadedas are long lived (our oldest record is over 10 years) and can breed throughout the year (when conditions are good), this means that without food limiting their growth, Hadeda populations thrive (see article). It seems as though lawns and gardens in urban areas are well suited to Hadedas. One such bird was ringed as a nestling in Claremont and it has since made Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden its home. Human impacts on species are important to document so keep an eye out for colour ringed Hadedas and report resightings or recoveries using this form.

    Longevity of the Grey-headed Gull

    Dane Paijmans (2015-05-20)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Grey-headed Gull. After seeing how old a Hartlaub's Gull can get I was curious about the longevity of their sister species. The Grey-headed Gull is a common companion to the Hartlaub's Gull and is found across a far greater range of this country. In a comparison of longevities however the Hartlaub's Gulls' 27.5 years is far greater than the Grey-headed Gulls' longevity of only 16.04 years. This is due to the limited retraps and recoveries for the Grey-headed Gull. This longevity record is likely to improve as more records come in and as this individual (longevity record) was only retrapped it may be seen again in the future. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
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      Order: Charadriiformes
           Family: Laridae
                 Genus: Larus
      15.33 years (Roberts 7)
      16.04 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Larus cirrocephalus   583006
      Common name   Sample size
     Grey-headed Gull   Ringed: 3818      Retrapped: 22
      Recovered: 137 Total: 3977

    Longevity of the Hartlaub's Gull

    Dane Paijmans (2015-04-29)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Hartlaub's Gull. After receiving a recent record of a 14 year old individual (582766) I felt that this may be an interesting species to compare. It turns out the recent record was still very young in terms of the maximum SAFRING recorded longevity of this species (27y 6m 8d). It falls very short of the title as it is only the 35th oldest Hartlaub's Gull record in our database. Both of these individuals sadly met the same fate and were euthanized as a result of injuries. This after a long life which started out on Robben island (in 1976 (oldest) and 2000 (our 14 year old individual)). Another random coincidence a few of the more observant readers may have noticed is that our oldest record was first ringed by the ADU directors father (George Underhill) and the younger individual ringed by the ADU director himself (Les Underhill). If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
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      Order: Charadriiformes
           Family: Laridae
                 Genus: Larus
      26 years (Roberts 7)
      27.5 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Larus hartlaubii   561977
      Common name   Sample size
     Hartlaub's Gull   Ringed: 7833      Retrapped: 322
      Recovered: 331 Total: 8486

    A White-faced Duck found a long way from home

    Christie Craig (2015-04-23)


    White-faced Ducks (Dendrocygna viduata) are a widespread species in Africa, south of the Saharan Desert, and in South America. The movements of these birds are unpredictable but tend to be restricted to local movements, not further than 500km. Our records of White-faced Duck show that 78% of the 125 recoveries we received were within 100km of where they were ringed. However a few White-faced Ducks seem to have a little more ambition than others and move much further. Last week a White-faced Duck was caught in Malolwane (Botswana) which was initially ringed by Dr Brown at Albert Falls (Pietermaritzburg), which meant that this duck had moved a distance of 668km!(see record)

    What makes some of these ducks move such distances when most stay in one area? After all, moving long distance is not only energetically costly but also risky. White-faced Ducks breed in spring and use the winter period to moult and to build up fat reserves in preparation for breeding. Seasonal movements have been recorded, where ducks will move northwards in winter, possibly in search of higher rainfall areas with flooded feeding areas. Agriculture seems to be affecting White-faced Duck movement patterns, as irrigated croplands and dams provide foraging areas in both winter and summer.

    The White-faced Duck in question was both ringed and captured in areas with a lot of agricultural activity. It is difficult to say why and how this duck moved so far, as ringing records are a snap-shot record of a bird’s movement patterns. It may have moved slowly North-west over the three years between captures or may have moved all in one go. Why did this particular White-faced Duck decide to move from Albert Falls all the way to Botswana? We can only speculate, perhaps it thought that the grass was greener on the other side of the border.

    This information came from the SAFRING records and the following articles:

    (BirdLife International)

    (Satellite Tracking of White-Faced Whistling Ducks in a Semiarid Region of South Africa)

    (Nutrient-reserve dynamics of semi-arid breeding White-faced Whistling Ducks: a north-temperate contrast)

    Visiting Little Terns from Israel

    Dane Paijmans (2015-04-08)


    In March during a trip to Mozambique, Ian Sinclair photographed two Little Terns (Sterna albifrons) which were fitted with foreign metal rings as well as white plastic rings inscribed with AJ7 and AJ2. These photos were sent through to Tony Tree who knew exactly who to contact at the Israeli Bird Ringing Center regarding this sighting. The two Little Terns (B41693 and B41678) were ringed as juveniles in Atlit Salt-Pans, Israel by ringer Yosef Kiat in July 2012. This project has been ongoing since 2010 and further details can be seen by clicking here.

    This species is rated Least Concern by the IUCN and we currently have 188 records of in our database. These low numbers are predominantly due to the fact that this species does not breed in Southern Africa and few of them are trapped. Their current breeding range is mostly in Europe and parts of Asia (click here for a map). They breed on open shorelines during periods of high fish and prey abundance before July. Once the breeding season is over they may visit Southern Africa (from late July) so this would be a good time to get some sightings in, and contact us with colour ring records.

    The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Yosef Kiat.
    The additional information is taken from the IUCN website and for further reading on the Little Tern please click here
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    Longevity of the Cape Batis

    Dane Paijmans (2015-04-01)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Cape Batis. I chose this species after I removed this one (in the photo) from a mist net. It was the first one I had handled and I was amazed at how gentle and relaxed it remained when handling. There haven't been too many recoveries for this species but just from the retraps we have calculated an impressive longevity. As this record was initially ringed as an adult and never recovered it is likely older than the calculated 13y 1m 12d. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
    The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Sally Hofmeyr.
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      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Platysteiridae
                 Genus: Batis
      8.09 years (Roberts 7)
      >13.11 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Batis capensis   X69014
      Common name   Sample size
     Cape Batis   Ringed: 1826      Retrapped: 151
      Recovered: 4 Total: 1981

    Visiting Lesser Spotted Eagle from Slovakia

    Dane Paijmans (2015-03-25)


    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

    Longevity of the Levaillant's Cisticola

    Dane Paijmans (2015-02-18)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Levaillant's Cisticola. Not only is this individual’s longevity the greatest for the Levaillant's Cisticolas it is also the greatest longevity record we have for all the cisticola species. This individual has spent a fair amount of time in the mist nets at Rondevlei Nature Reserve, having been trapped a total of six times. As 'she' was first ringed as an adult and last seen alive and well, this individual has likely lived a fair amount longer than the calculated 7y 8m 5d. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Cisticolidae
                 Genus: Cisticola
      6.9 years (Roberts 7)
      >7.67 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Cisticola tinniens   GA70176
      Common name   Sample size
     Levaillant's Cisticola   Ringed: 8291      Retrapped: 2112
      Recovered: 18 Total: 10421

    Longevity of the Laughing Dove

    Dane Paijmans (2015-02-11)


    This week’s longevity record looks at one of the more commonly ringed birds; the Laughing Dove. We have an incredible 51753 ringing/retrap/recovery records for this species in our database so it offers itself to be a great subject for calculating the longevity. In addition it is easily retrapped so we have many longevity records to look at. Strangely the current maximum longevity record of 12 years 2 months has held for the last 20 years and no other individuals have come close with the runner-ups falling short at nearly ten years. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Columbiformes
           Family: Columbidae
                 Genus: Spilopelia
      12.25 years (Roberts 7)
      12.17 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Spilopelia senegalensis   545189
      Common name   Sample size
     Laughing Dove   Ringed: 48272      Retrapped: 2499
      Recovered: 582 Total: 51753

    Longevity of the Cape Glossy Starling

    Dane Paijmans (2015-02-04)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Cape Glossy Starling. Being a common bird throughout most of the country we at SAFRING have received many initial ringing records (3248). The trouble with ringing the family Sturnidae however is that they are very clever and are unlikely retrapped in a similar method twice. This results in minimal numbers of retrap records occurring for these species. This longevity record for the Cape Glossy Starling was only trapped once when it was under 6 months old and then recovered soon after it died. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Sturnidae
                 Genus: Lamprotornis
      n/a (Roberts 7)
      9.4 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Lamprotornis nitens   486889
      Common name   Sample size
     Cape Glossy Starling   Ringed: 3248      Retrapped: 77
      Recovered: 16 Total: 3341

    Longevity of the Mountain Wheatear

    Dane Paijmans (2015-01-28)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Mountain Wheatear. This individual has really seen his share of retraps and as of last month took his place as the oldest Mountain Wheatear in our database. This affinity to being resighted is primarily due to his love of mealworms as he regularly visits the ringer (Ursula Franke) at her holiday house to get these treats. He also enjoys the occasional beetle but does not fancy rose beetle grubs. As he was first ringed as an adult and has been sighted a few times since the last record he is likely older than the current record. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.
    The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Ursula Franke.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Muscicapidae
                 Genus: Oenanthe
      no record (Roberts 7)
      >8.64 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Oenanthe monticola   FH33533
      Common name   Sample size
     Mountain Wheatear   Ringed: 690      Retrapped: 83
      Recovered: 3 Total: 776

    Longevity of Methuselah the Great White Pelican

    Dane Paijmans (2015-01-21)


    I hope everyone had a wonderful festive season and that 2015 has got off to a great start! To kick off this year's longevity stories we have a very special record: the oldest living individual currently in the SAFRING database. This title belongs to the Great White Pelican nicknamed "Methuselah" by Mark Boorman.

    Methuselah, or "Peter the pelican" as he* is also known, was first ringed by Hu Berry on Bird Rock; a man-made guano platform just a few kilometers off Walvis Bay, Namibia. As a young researcher, Hu Berry ringed Methuselah as a chick on the 30th December 1972. Since then Methuselah doesn't appear to have travelled far from home. Although little is known of his first 30 years, Methuselah was re-sighted at the Raft Restaurant in Walvis Bay on 21 February 2003 by Mark Boorman. Since then he has been spotted on several occasions around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund by registered ringers Mark Boorman and Peter Bridgeford, as well as bird enthusiasts Nigel Goodgame, Laszlo Haraszthy and a group from Mola Mola Safaris.

    Methuselah earned his nickname after being re-sighted on 5 January 2015 (making him 42 years old). This age exceeds all our longevity records in the SAFRING database and as far as I can tell is the greatest age for any pelican in the wild. Of the 8 pelican species around the world, there are few wild individuals that come close to this age, the second oldest on record being a wild Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) at 27 years 10 months (North American bird ringing programme). There are however some captive records exceeding 42 years, the oldest being an American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) at 54 years, and another Great White Pelican which reached 51 years (Longevity Records: Life spans of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish by Carey and Judge).

    It will be interesting to see if Methuselah has what it takes to outlive his captive counterparts but only time will tell. In the meantime if you are out and about near Walvis Bay keep an eye out and let us know if you happen to spot this old-timer.

    Background information on "Peter the Pelican/Methuselah' taken from "Bridgeford, P. 2009. (...Of Shoes and ships and sealing-wax) and pelicans and rings. Mitteilungen newsletter 50: 33. The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Mark Boorman.

    If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details

    * Or "she" - the sex of Methuselah is currently unknown.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Pelecaniformes
           Family: Pelecanidae
                 Genus: Pelecanus
      28 years (Roberts 7)
      >42 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Pelecanus onocrotalus   H01024
      Common name   Sample size
     Great White Pelican   Ringed: 1188      Retrapped: 115
      Recovered: 166 Total: 1469

    Longevity of the Groundscraper Thrush

    Dane Paijmans (2014-12-03)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Groundscraper Thrush. Due to the limited retraps and recoveries this species does not have a representative sample to calculate the longevity from. Additionally this individual was ringed as an adult and only retrapped so it will be older then this current record. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Turdidae
                 Genus: Psophocichla
      2 years (Roberts 7)
      >6.58 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Psophocichla litsipsirupa   4H29216
      Common name   Sample size
     Groundscraper Thrush   Ringed: 550      Retrapped: 16
      Recovered: 2 Total: 568

    Longevity of the Lilac-breasted Roller

    Dane Paijmans (2014-11-26)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Lilac-breasted Roller. This is one of the species that requires additional records to establish a better longevity result. Although nearly eight hundred of these birds have been ringed we at SAFRING receive very few resigtings and recoveries. We have many species where this is a problem so representative longevity records are not available. Please think of this next time you go ringing and attempt to resight species with few retrap/recovery records. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Coraciiformes
           Family: Coraciidae
                 Genus: Coracias
      8 years (Roberts 7)
      4.27 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Coracias caudatus   580515
      Common name   Sample size
     Lilac-breasted Roller   Ringed: 744      Retrapped: 18
      Recovered: 4 Total: 766

    Longevity of the Helmeted Guineafowl

    Dane Paijmans (2014-11-19)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Helmeted Guineafowl. After nearly running one of these over the other day I was not surprised to discover that they had quite short life spans. There are a number of records around this 8 year mark, although many sites online state they may reach 15 years (none of these have references though). This specific individual was released into the Cape of Good Hope in 1955 as an adult so it may be a little older. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Galliformes
           Family: Numididae
                 Genus: Numida
      8 years (Roberts 7)
      >7.76 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Numida meleagris   52403292
      Common name   Sample size
     Helmeted Guineafowl   Ringed: 2995      Retrapped: 15
      Recovered: 111 Total: 3121

    Longevity of the Cape Wagtail

    Dane Paijmans (2014-11-12)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Cape Wagtail. These birds are a common sight throughout South Africa and easily recognisable by their namesake tail wag. This action has a few explanations although it is most likely used for social signalling and improving feeding efficiency. This longevity record may be quite a bit older as this individual was initially ringed as an adult and so far only retrapped. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Motacillidae
                 Genus: Motacilla
      average 11 years (Roberts 7)
      >13.04 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Motacilla capensis   BC22048
      Common name   Sample size
     Cape Wagtail   Ringed: 7093      Retrapped: 267
      Recovered: 59 Total: 7419

    Longevity of the Bank Cormorant

    Dane Paijmans (2014-11-05)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Endangered Bank Cormorant. Due to all the research being done on these birds we have nearly as many re-traps/re-sightings as initial ringing records. This has resulted in many older records with one even exceeding 17 years although as the ring number was not clearly identified in the report we are not able to confidently verify it. We do urge you to try to recover the entire ring number and submit photos or actual rings when possible. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Suliformes
           Family: Phalacrocoracidae
                 Genus: Phalacrocorax
      16.08 years (Roberts 7)
      16.06 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Phalacrocorax neglectus   904927
      Common name   Sample size
     Bank Cormorant   Ringed: 1548      Retrapped: 929
      Recovered: 81 Total: 2558

    Longevity of the Kelp Gull

    Dane Paijmans (2014-10-29)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the Kelp Gull. Similar to other Charadriiformes Kelp Gulls can live quite a long time and due to various past projects we have a number of older individuals in our database. As these birds are not commonly retrapped most of our post-ringing records come from recovories sent in by the general public. This week’s longevity record (K05951) was found close to its 25th hatchday, and after an autopsy it was established that it had been shot. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Charadriiformes
           Family: Laridae
                 Genus: Larus
      24.16 years (Roberts 7)
      24.53 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Larus dominicanus   K05951
      Common name   Sample size
     Kelp Gull   Ringed: 15887      Retrapped: 476
      Recovered: 768 Total: 17131

    Longevity of the Blue Waxbill

    Dane Paijmans (2014-10-22)


    This weeks longevity record looks at the Blue Waxbill. These little birds can live quite a while and occur around the northern parts of southern Africa. This longevity record is probably a male first ringed as a juvenile in 1996. He has yet to be recovered so may be older. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Estrildidae
                 Genus: Uraeginthus
      11.3 years (Roberts 7)
      >10.85 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Uraeginthus angolensis   AD11424
      Common name   Sample size
     Blue Waxbill   Ringed: 25775      Retrapped: 2393
      Recovered: 42 Total: 28210

    Longevity of the White-browed Sparrow Weaver

    Dane Paijmans (2014-10-15)


    This week’s longevity record looks at the White-browed Sparrow-Weaver. These birds have a number of records older than 11 years of both male and females. This specific individual is likely a female and as it was last retrapped and initially ringed as an adult it is likely a few years older than the calculated longevity of 11.3 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: Plocepasser
      10 years (Roberts 7)
      >11.3 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Plocepasser mahali   BC96612
      Common name   Sample size
      White-browed Sparrow-Weaver   Ringed: 7674      Retrapped: 5179
      Recovered: 35 Total: 12888

    Longevity of the Southern Double-collard Sunbird

    Dane Paijmans (2014-10-08)


    Another common resident of Kirstenbosch is the Southern Double-collared Sunbird. You would think a life spent eating only sugar would be very short, but this species has a number of longevity records of over 10 years. This record of 11.9 years may be bettered as this individuals death was due to drowning. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Nectariniidae
                 Genus: Cinnyris
      8.5 years (Roberts 7)
      11.90 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Cinnyris chalybeus   X85134
      Common name   Sample size
      Southern Double-collared Sunbird   Ringed: 9033      Retrapped: 559
      Recovered: 33 Total: 9625

    Longevity of the Martial Eagle

    Dane Paijmans (2014-09-30)


    We received an interesting recovery this week of a Martial Eagle which sadly died after being electrocuted by power lines in the Kruger National Park. What makes the recovery so interesting is that the bird is estimated to be a minimum of 27 years old. This age is calculated by the fact that it was initially ringed as an adult (adult plumage is attained between 5-7 years) by Alan Kemp in 1992 as part of an earlier project on the species in the Park. The bird was also electrocuted close to the initial ringing site showing remarkable site fidelity over the last 22 years. This record was sent to us by Rowen van Eeden, a PhD student at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, who is currently trying to identify the cause of the species population decline in the Kruger. If you would like to follow his work, please Click Here.
    The photo accompanied by this article is accredited to Rene van der Schyff.
    If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Accipitriformes
           Family: Accipitridae
                 Genus: Polemaetus
      22 years (Roberts 7)
      >27 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Polemaetus bellicosus   G19094
      Common name   Sample size
      Martial Eagle   Ringed: 238      Retrapped: 1
      Recovered: 22 Total: 261

    Longevity of the Spotted Eagle-Owl

    Dane Paijmans (2014-09-23)


    If you stay in the Cape Town area, you can pop around to Kirstenbosch to see their resident pair of Spotted Eagle-Owls. This is where I took this weeks photo. The pair is currently breeding again and the female can easily be seen sitting on her eggs above the cycad garden. Be wary when getting too close as the male it keeping a close eye on her. If you aren't from around here don't worry as this is a common species found throughout southern Africa. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Strigiformes
           Family: Strigidae
                 Genus: Bubo
      >21 years (Roberts 7)
      11.29 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Bubo africanus   723684
      Common name   Sample size
      Spotted Eagle-Owl   Ringed: 2524      Retrapped: 45
      Recovered: 124 Total: 2693

    Longevity of the Common Tern

    Dane Paijmans (2014-09-17)


    After reading Mark Boormans note in Laniarius 127 I though I would take a look at the Common Tern for this weeks longevity article. As per Marks note the SAFRING recorded longevity of the Common Tern is 33.67 years (AT055395). I have viewed the Euring, BTO, ABBBS and North American longevity lists to compare this record. It is infact the oldest record I could find and has been recently added to a list of sea bird longevities being compiled by the ABBBS for publication in calaboration with all the other ringing schemes. The previous longevity was 33 years ringed by the BTO and is recorded in the Euring database. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Charadriiformes
           Family: Laridae
                 Genus: Sterna
      33 years (Roberts 7)
      33.67 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Sterna hirundo   AT055395
      Common name   Sample size
      Common Tern   Ringed: 22414      Retrapped: 457
      Recovered: 157 Total: 23028

    Swierstra's Francolin (Pternistis swierstrai) in Angola

    Dane Paijmans (2014-09-10)


     

    Here at SAFRING we get ringing records of many rare and interesting species from all over Africa and across the world. Occasionally we even get photos to back these up so I would like to show some of these on this site occasionally to inspire the pursuits (data records not hunting) of these rare and endangered species.

     

    On an excursion during 2010 in Tundavala, Angola, Ursula Franke took these photos of Swierstra's Francolin (Pternistis swierstrai) which were trapped and ringed. She was in company of Steve, Louise and Dayne Braine and Mark Boorman along with a few others avid ringers. Their technique involved setting up large flap traps (assembled by Mark) at a site where Ursula had been observing the francolins taking their sandbath. They did managed to catch and ring two Swierstra's Francolins’ on this outing which in my opinion is a day very well spent.

     

    We currently only have these two records in our database due to the fact that these birds are endangered (population estimated between 465-1052 and 1040-2080 pairs) as a result of deforestation and hunting. These birds only remain in isolated populations (click here for a map) within forests and forest edges where they feed on insects and seeds. The population of this species is on a decline and unless something is done to protect the habitats and individuals they may be in a lot of trouble.

    This information is taken from the IUCN website and for further reading on the Swierstra's Francolin please click here.

    Longevity of the Cape White-eye

    Dane Paijmans (2014-09-03)


    For this week I chose to calculate the longevity of another common garden bird; the Cape White-eye. This species gave a few problems due to the fairly recent split forming Zosterops virens and Zosterops pallidus. This meant that a number of the older ring records were still assigned the old number, although as these two species have a very similar longevity (Z.pallidus: 10.65 years) it was not a big problem. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Passeriformes
           Family: Zosteropidae
                 Genus: Zosterops
      12.66 years (Roberts 7)
      10.21 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Zosterops virens   AD29851
      Common name   Sample size
      Cape White-eye   Ringed: 16748      Retrapped: 1820
      Recovered: 28 Total: 18596

    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)


     

    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)


    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.

    Longevity of the Spotted Thick-knee

    Dane Paijmans (2014-07-30)


    For this week I chose to calculate the longevity of the Spotted Thick-knee. This old individual was initially caught as an adult and retrapped so would be a few years older than 22. If you feel you know of an older record please contact us at SAFRING with the details.

      Taxonomy   Maximum Longevity
      Order: Charadriiformes
           Family: Burhinidae
                 Genus: Burhinus
      21.66 years (Roberts 7)
      21.67 years (SAFRING)
      Species   Ring Number
      Burhinus capensis   64506736
      Common name   Sample size
      Spotted Thick-knee   Ringed: 1178      Retrapped: 70
      Recovered: 30 Total: 1278

    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.

      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.

    Abstract

    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 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: swift.terns@gmail.com

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

    Thanks for your help!

    Free English edition of Der Falke on bird migration

    Dane Paijmans (2014-05-13)


    Click Image to Download Article

     

     

    An interesting special english edition of Der Falke has been released on bird migration.

    Take a look at this free copy by clicking on the image on the left (Filesize: 8.79MB).