Jackdaw and Blue tit chicks get ringed in my garden……

This afternoon Ben, from Brewood Ringers, came over to ring some of the new arrivals in my patch. Ringing involves putting a small, uniquely numbered ring on the bird’s leg.

Why ring a bird though? The BTO explain that 900,000 birds are ringed in Britain and Ireland each year by over 2,600 trained ringers, most of whom are volunteers. Ringing birds is essential if we are to learn about how long they live and when and where they move, questions that are vital for bird conservation. Placing a lightweight, uniquely numbered, metal ring around a bird’s leg provides a reliable and harmless method of identifying birds as individuals.

Although we have been ringing birds in Britain and Ireland for over 100 years, we are still discovering new facts about migration routes and wintering areas. However, the main focus of the Ringing Scheme today is monitoring bird populations. Ringing allows us to study how many young birds leave the nest and survive to become adults, as well as how many adults survive the stresses of breeding, migration and severe weather.

You can help the BTO by reporting any ringed bird you find. The annual report on bird ringing is published in the Ringing Scheme journal Ringing & Migration.

I have several nest boxes with youngsters in and it was the tawny owlets, blue tits and jackdaws that were the right age for ringing. Ben started by checking my tawny owlets. Despite being the right age, he felt that, although they were looking healthy, they were still little small. He will return next week to ring them. Maybe their small size is something to do with just the female feeding them and them not getting as much as they would have with two parents caring for them.

Next Ben had a look in one of my jackdaw boxes. I have two jackdaw nests. The one on my live cameras has chicks that are too large to ring now. It is best to ring just as their wings are pinning (feathers just appearing) as they are feeding at peak and the parents are very unlikely to be too disturbed by the short removal of their chicks. The strong instinct to feed them overrides any disruption. The other nest box has chicks that are over a week younger. There had been two chicks in here, but now seems to be only one. Ben carefully removed the chick and bought it down in a small bag.

Ben’s two daughters were on hand to help and I love to see youngsters hands-on with wildlife! This jackdaw chick looked just like a dinosaur, with its reptilian-like features …..

Within a few minutes, the ring was safely put onto its legs and Ben checked it fitted correctly and would not travel over the knuckle or down over the foot. Then, it was popped safely back into the nest box!

Next were my Hub blue tits. You will see this nest on my live cameras. The other nest box are a week behind, so still a bit too small. We may do them when Ben returns next week to do the owlets.

There were 8 chicks inside this box… one was the runt and really tiny, so we did not ring that one. Ben climbed up to the box and carefully removed all the chicks and placed them in a bag. He then blocked the hole of the nest box. We would not want the parents returning to the box and finding it was empty.

These chicks are SO tiny!!! They always look pretty big on the cameras, but when you have them in your hand, you realise just how small they are. Again, Ben worked quickly through them, gently attaching the ring to their tiny legs before we returned them safely to the nest box. The parents were back in, in less than a minute, and all are feeding well again now!

It would be good to see the ringed blue tits around the garden in the coming months. Hopefully my owlets will continue to grow and thrive over the next week and they can be ringed over the Bank Holiday weekend.