Bird ringing is a tool used by researchers to study birds. It involves trapping birds using special nets called mist nets; carefully extracting and examining them; putting a light metal ring with a unique number on the tarsus (leg); taking measurements like age (adult or young), weight, bill length, among other biometrics; and releasing them back to the wild.
A lot of information has been obtained from birds ringed in this way, among them, movement of birds, migration routes followed, lifespan, distribution and dispersal, habitat change, among others.
In Nairobi, ringing is usually done weekly by members of Nairobi Ringing Group at Nairobi Museums Ground. During the month of June, we experienced cold and rainy weather and a decline in the number of birds caught; sometimes we closed nets with 1-2 or no bird ringed at all. Nevertheless, that has not interfered with members’ morale and effort to set up nets and hope to ring some birds.
A number of longevity records in June are very important information for ringers and birders in general. A Singing Cisticola (Cisticola cantans) with ID ring K 45132, was first ringed on 9th July 2009 as an adult bird, and re-trapped in June 2016. A Rüppell’s Robin Chat (Cossypha semirufa) with ID ring AA 31604 was ringed on 17th July 2014 as an adult, and re-trapped in June 2016.
We don’t know how far resident birds move from time to time; but with ringing, we are getting an answer. An Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus) was ringed with ID ring BB 7402 on 11th November, 2015; it was later caught by the public at Kiambu Road, Runda area, approximately 15 km from the Museums ground.
An amazing highlight was an African Paradise Flycatcher with ID ring K45023. This bird was ringed on 23rdAugust, 2007 as a full adult and re-trapped on 23thJune 2016. Lifespan with the ring is 8 years, 10 months, and since he was an adult bird, he may be older than 10 years.
Please report any ringed bird to Bird Committee at Nature Kenya (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ornithology Section, National Museums of Kenya. Remember, don’t try to catch a bird to read the number! Photograph it instead and send us the photo. Wishing you happy birding and ringing!