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About bird ringing

Bird ringing is the scientific method where wild birds are trapped and light metal rings with individual identification numbers applied around their legs. The inscription on each ring includes not only an identification number but also an address to where the recovery of a ring can be reported. On Swedish rings the address is RIKSMUSEUM STOCKHOLM. Historically, there have been other addresses too but since 1960 all bird rings from Sweden have the same address.

As a complement, coloured plastic rings are sometimes used together with the metal ring. These rings may be combined to form a colour code for a specific individual. The colour code makes it possible to recognise an individual bird from a distance and the method is often used by researchers when, for example, movements of individual birds on a small scale, such as on the breeding quarters, are studied.

Neck rings with individual numbers are sometimes used on larger birds such as swans and geese. The advantage of these rings is that they can be read from a distance, for example by using binoculars, and the probability of a recovery therefor increases dramatically. These rings are used only within special research projects and the use of them is not administrated by the Bird Ringing Centre. At present, there are research projects on Whooper Swans where birds are ringed with neck rings in Finland, Denmark and Germany. These birds are regularily observed in Sweden while on passage.

Bird ringing in Sweden is performed by about 700 ringers and their assistants. About 250 bird ringers work at the 21 bird observatories and about 450 ring birds within private projects all over Sweden. Less than 10% of the bird ringers are female and the majority of these ring birds at bird observatories. Most bird ringers ring birds on their free time but a few use bird ringing as a method for scientific research.
Bird observatories in Swedenexternal link, opens in new window (in Swedish)

There is no formal education to become a bird ringer in Sweden and the only way is to practice together with experienced ringers. There are bird ringing courses as a complement but to earn a ringing permit extensive practice of handling and "reading" birds in the field is also required.



The history of bird ringing

Why ring birds?

Bird ringing in Sweden

Old and very worn birdring

Old and very worn birdring