Bird ringing in Sweden - how it all started
In an article published in 1913, Hialmar Rendahl presented his plans to start a ringing project using rings with the address “Return Riksmuseum Stockholm". Four different ring sizes should be used and anyone interested to participate in the project was asked to get in touch. Professor Einar Lönnberg, at the Vertebrate Department of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, supported the project and handled all duties at the ringing office as well as all correspondence concerning ringing recoveries until he retired in 1933.
The ringing activity in Sweden increased successively and other organisations beside the museums in Gothenburg and Stockholm started to ring birds. One of these was the Swedish Sportsmen's Association, who started to ring birds in a wildlife project where both birds and mammals were marked. They used specially designed wing clips to ring nestlings of grouse and duck, but later started to use ordinary rings as well.
Due to financial problems a centralisation of the ringing activity in Sweden was on the agenda during the late 1950s. The idea was that one central organisation would be more efficient and also facilitate the international contacts. At a meeting in January 1959, representatives of the organisations involved agreed to house the becoming Bird Ringing Centre at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Professor Alf Johnels at the Department of Vertebrate Zoology agreed that all Swedish bird ringing could be administrated by the Swedish Museum of Natural History and made available the necessary offices. However, this plan was dependent on external funding for salaries. An application to the Swedish Natural Science Research Council was approved and in January 1960 Sten Österlöf was employed as head of the ringing unit with Carin Malmberg as assistant.
In accordance with the approved grant, the ringing activity had to be guided by a ringing committee including representatives of the former ringing organisations and the Swedish Nature Conservation Society. An annual grant was received from the Research Council until 1975 after which all the costs for the ringing activity were transferred to the ordinary budget of the Museum. The Ringing Committee continued its work but now as an advisory committee. Until the late 1980s the budget for the ringing activity was hardly sufficient and on several occasions, measures were taken to keep the increasing number of ringed birds within limits.