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News article created on 8 October 2014

Keep your eyes peeled for the coloured rings many birds are sporting in Birmingham this Autumn

The Canal & River Trust are supporting the work of researchers in Birmingham, and are asking for your help to find out more about some of our common feathered friends.

The University of Birmingham are researching how the amounts of connected tree cover and built land cover affect the breeding performance and movement patterns of birds within green-spaces of Birmingham.

Part of the three-year study involved the installation and monitoring of 300 nest boxes within 30 study sites; including land around the Grand Union Canal, Fazeley Street, Birmingham. As the breeding season has now finished for cavity nesting birds such as the Blue Tit and Great Tit researchers  are currently investigating the dispersal and movement patterns of birds across the City of Birmingham through a programme of mist netting.

Mist netting involves the temporary installation of fine nets set between poles to catch birds in flight. Once caught a lightweight, uniquely numbered, metal ring is fitted onto a bird’s leg by licensed handlers. These standard British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) rings provide a reliable and harmless method of identifying birds when they are encountered again. Various biometrics are taken from the birds, including age, sex, weight, wing length, fat and muscle score, before releasing them after a few minutes.

This  year  small,  brightly  coloured  plastic rings are being  fitted  to the legs of six garden bird species; Dunnock,  Great  Tit, Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Coal Tit. The University are asking members of the public to record any birds seen wearing a coloured ring either in their gardens or whilst out and about. As a different ring colour is being used for each study site researchers can calculate how far birds are moving across the City- between site of colour ring issue and next encounter.

To find out more about the project or to report a colour ring sighting please contact the researchers via email dxh232@bham.ac.uk  or telephone 07835632525.

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The environment team

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