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Ring or not?

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9 Sep 2012 8:55AM
This question was asked of me by someone who knows I am anti kingfisher ringing:
"What evidence have you to show that ringing the birds will traumatise them when the experts from the RSPB obviously considered it worthwhile. ??
The ringing of birds has long been a valued tool in the armoury of those who study bird habits,welfare, and general well being."
My answer:
I have great respect for the R.S.P.B. I give kingfisher talks and slide shows to photo clubs wildlife societies etc. The local R.S.P.B. have asked me to give a kingfisher talk to their members.
Also when I first applied for a Natural England licence to study kingfishers at their nest site and during the breeding season, The local R.S.P.B. official gave me a glowing written reference.
During my talks a question regularly crops up: " How long do kingfishers live?"
The oldest kingfisher on record was 10 years. This is known because a dead kingfisher had a ring which was placed on it's leg 10 years previously.
Because of ringing we know that English kingfishers do not migrate, Also because of ringing we know that fledgling kingfishers are chased by territorial kingfishers down the rivers towards, and sometimes as far as the sea. I have written a book on the lives of kingfishers. I have studied them full time now for over 5 years,in more than a dozen locations. I intend to study them for the rest of my life. I have so far followed 4 breeding pairs.
When the R.S.P.B. asked to ring the birds I study, I said I preferred they did not. This was respected.
My reasoning is twofold. First the extra new knowledge obtained by ringing must be minimal. Secondly for any wild creature, which has had no physical contact with human beings, subjected to capture and ringing must be traumatised.

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Gaucho e2
12 2.4k 2 United Kingdom
9 Sep 2012 9:52AM
Very well put and it must be an excellent argument for many other birds that have been studied in a similar fashion. I had never thought of it that way.
9 Sep 2012 10:25AM

Quote:Very well put and it must be an excellent argument for many other birds that have been studied in a similar fashion. I had never thought of it that way.

+1
widtink 2 406 2 Scotland
9 Sep 2012 11:11AM
Very interesting thoughts you obviously know what your talking about and i sort of agree but do you not think the positives (knowledge etc) outweigh the negatives because ringing has greatly helped our understanding of other species.
monstersnowman 9 1.7k 1 England
9 Sep 2012 11:35AM
Well it is certainly one side of the argument put by someone with expert knowledge. I am sure there will somewhere be an expert with an opposing view.
MikeA 10 1.2k England
9 Sep 2012 2:57PM

Quote:Well it is certainly one side of the argument put by someone with expert knowledge. I am sure there will somewhere be an expert with an opposing view.

That is why they are e X spurts ;=))
9 Sep 2012 5:48PM
Interesting topic !!
Question !! How does ringing a Kingfisher ever help a Kingfisher ???
To catch it i suppose they put a net up !! Then the kingfisher fly's into net at 35mph.....next a 6ft bloke wades in and untangles.....grabs the kingfisher
puts it in a bag !! Then goes and weighs it then gets it out measures its beak etc etc.....then rings it before releasing it !!! If it has not died of fright !!

The only gain is human knowledge !!! Does it traumatise them !!! I would say so !!

Sorry only my thoughts after having the pleasure of studying and photographing them for 2 years.
widtink 2 406 2 Scotland
9 Sep 2012 6:31PM
Fair point but the more we know about them the more enlightened we will be in regards to their conservation.
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
9 Sep 2012 8:53PM

Quote:subjected to capture and ringing must be traumatised



Quote:Does it traumatise them !!! I would say so !!


You are making an assumption based on human emotion. Is this sort of 'trauma' any different to being chased by predators? Is there a long-term effect of this 'experience and does it change their beaviour? You may take the 'better to be safe' principle and say they should not do it but then in these days of climate change, if we stop ringing we will lose interesting information about how change in habitat is affecting their beviour. Or does ringing give us a better idea of population numbers?

To be honest, I don't have strong feelings either way but I hesitate to make decisions based on anthropomorphising animals. I susepct that because the RSPB so readily accepted your wish not to ring then they do not have strong feelings either but maybe there is a case for ringing a percentage of the population in a region.
Carabosse e2
11 39.7k 269 England
9 Sep 2012 8:56PM
Don't worry about kingfishers. They won't be "traumatised" - they'll forget within minutes............ they've got the memory of a grasshopper!

Oops............. I think I've got my species mixed up. Wink
Gaucho e2
12 2.4k 2 United Kingdom
9 Sep 2012 10:11PM
I think the point being made is that what there was to be learnt by ringing has been done and dusted, i.e. there is nothing more to learn in that fashion. So, why do it?
mikehit e2
5 7.1k 11 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2012 8:27AM
I understand that, but you have to ask in 10 years time and there are no ringed birds left how will we track populations? One of the commonest mistakes is to think 'we know all there is to know so we will pack up and go home' and I am not sure we have all the information we need to protect the populations.
Gaucho e2
12 2.4k 2 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2012 10:45AM
I guess I don't know enough about ringing. Perhaps Alan might like to comment.
10 Sep 2012 1:16PM
Malcolm,
I started the post with my comment.
Do not wish to add to it. I thank everyone for their input.
Best regards Alan S Willis
Gaucho e2
12 2.4k 2 United Kingdom
10 Sep 2012 1:36PM
Fair enough!Grin

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