There has been a lot of discussion recently around the value of bird ringing. Ringing collects data on survival, productivity and abundance and this information helps scientists understand species declines, allowing them to prioritise conservation efforts. While the scientific benefits of ringing are relatively easy to see, the more practical applications of ringing are sometimes less obvious.
In November 2014, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 was confirmed on a farm in Yorkshire. Guidance was updated on the BTO website and includes information about how to report any unusual mortality in wild bird populations.
|Common Teal, one of the species analysed by the Migration Mapping Tool. |
Photograph by Edmund Fellowes
During the previous outbreak in 2007, movement data collected over the last 100 years from birds ringed across Europe were collated by EURING to produce the Migration Mapping Tool. This maps migration routes in time and space for 21 species of water-bird. The tool was developed to assess the potential risk of AI being moved by wild birds; of course, other possible mechanisms of movement also have to be considered. It provides a summary of bird movements between different areas in Europe and at different times and demonstrates how useful data from bird ringing can be in a wider context. As well as being a valuable tool in the assessment of possible risk from the movement of AI, the Migration Mapping Tool is a fascinating resource for learning more about migration in general.