23 December 2016

It's not just the bells ringing at Christmas!

With only a few days to go until Christmas Day, many people will be doing some last minute shopping and travelling to see family. There will be some however that try and make the most of the national holiday by going ringing. Partridges in pear trees are unlikely to be the primary target, but many garden birds are likely to be gathering for their own Christmas dinners.

Total number of birds ringed on Christmas Day each year

The total number of birds ringed on Christmas Day is usually around 400-700 birds, so are there any little gems in the recoveries in the BTO ringing scheme database? Of course there are!

In 2015, 59 different ringing groups or individual ringers encountered a total of 659 birds. Eight birds ringed on Christmas day have subsequently been found or recaptured on the same or subsequent Christmas days. For example, a juvenile male Blackbird ringed at Wolverton, near Stratford, Warwickshire on 25 Dec 2013 was caught in the same place on 25 Dec 2014. An adult Blue Tit from Thorpe Street, Hinderclay, Suffolk ringed on 25 Dec 2013, was caught exactly two years later at the same location by the Little Ouse RG. 

A male Blackbird, colour ringed in the same Holt garden

A juvenile female Blackbird, ringed by BTO's own Dave Leech on 25 Dec 2007 was seen two years later in the same garden in Holt, Norfolk. This bird is part of a more intensive colour ringing project on Blackbirds in Holt. Dave’s mum, Barbara, amassed 108 sightings of this bird in total, helping us understand the way in which these birds use gardens throughout the year.

What will Christmas day 2016 hold? We will know soon enough, but until then, we wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year! A special thanks to our wonderful ringers, supporters and reporters for their valuable help during 2016, helping us to shed ever more light on the wonderful research field of avian demography.

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