Ringing the Raptors
This year has been a great year for the wildlife on all the parks in particular the raptors, which include owls.
We are delighted that we have had numerous breeding pairs which have been successful in raising young. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to join local bird expert Arthur ‘the owl man’ and the team from Dunoon Wildlife Rescue to ring the young owlets on the parks.
Young owls get a ring on their leg (Like a bracelet) with a specific number on it which is then registered on a database. When owls are found the number on the ring allows the bird to be traced back to its origin – some travel thousands of miles from where they fledged.
Owl ringing provides important information that underpins conservation work for owls in the same way as for other birds.
The bird ringing scheme in the UK is run by the British Trust for Ornithology. Ringing is only carried out by trained, skilled ringers with the welfare of the owls remaining the priority. The BTO Ringing Scheme maintains extremely high standards of bird welfare and the scientific data.
It is a legal requirement that anyone ringing wild birds has to hold a BTO ringing permit which has to be renewed each year. The vast majority of ringers are volunteers.
Does it hurt the bird I hear you ask? The simple answer is no. Records of birds that have lived long successful lives show that ringing has no impact on their health, breeding or survival. Incidentally, an owlet will not be rejected by its parents after being handled as they have very little sense of smell.
I am looking forward to spotting the young in and around the parks as they learn how to hunt and spread their wings. Tawny owlets go through a phase called ‘branching’, when they clamber, climb, hop and flit around in the trees at night. The adults locate them by their contact calls and will feed them anywhere they have ventured to. It is not unusual for owlets to spend time on the ground during this phase however; they are extremely adept at climbing back up to the canopy again.
Jackie – Environmental Coordinator, Argyll Holidays