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Ringing of migrant birds removes the mysteries of bird migration


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Author Topic: Ringing of migrant birds removes the mysteries of bird migration  (Read 432 times)
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« on: June 30, 2011, 05:16:07 pm »

Over the past 100 years or so, ornithologists the world over drawn from countries such as United Kingdom, North America, South Africa, Canada, Western Europe, India, Asia, Japan and even our own fair isle of Sri Lanka had begun their meticulous task of ringing such migrating birds spending their winter vacation in the far off host countries.

Special nets are used for the purpose of ringing these migrant birds. Such nets are spread over the roosting grounds where they have been roosting. These methods are conducted by expert bird enthusiasts proficient in such bird ringing techniques.

The following morning they are caught manually and tenderly without causing any such potential injury to the feathers, limbs and bodies. Once the birds are caught, a tiny light weight lead ring is inserted around one limb. In this ring are carved the date of ringing and its place where it was ringed.

The monitoring of these results of such ringed birds is commenced in the next season, when such ringed birds are again caught, records are kept in the recovery charts maintained by Bird Club Societies.

So from season to season, such data are recorded to know the movements of such migrating birds. Even the daily flight spared of each is also recorded.

Bird ringing in our shores

The pioneering bird ringing operations in Sri Lanka was initiated by the Bird Club of Ceylon led by the leader, the late C.E. Norris, Hony, Secretary and his able team members like W.W.A. Phillips (ornithologist, Zoologist, prolific author on 'Birds of Ceylon books' and 'Mammals of Ceylon').

This Bird Club of Ceylon carried out such ringing operations around the Hingurana Sugar Plantations (Gal Oya Valley), in the early 1960s, in collaboration with Natural History Society of Bombay.

Migrant species like the Eastern Grey Wagtail (breeding grounds in Kashmir and the Himalayas) and Grey Headed Wagtail (breeding grounds in Siberia). These two species of birds had their roosting grounds among the sugar bushes in the Hingurana Sugar Cane Plantations.

Another eminent bird enthusiast and a contributor to the local English newspapers on birds, K.G.H. Munidasa assisted in these bird ringing operations closely with Norris and W.W. Phillips, as he was then employed in the Gal Oya Development Sugar Factory in Hingurana.

Such ringing operations were carried out till the 1970s. Munidasa is a veteran member of the Bird Club.

Followed with the Bird Club of Ceylon, from recent past came the birth of the Field Ornithology Group of Ceylon, led by the equally famed local ornithologist, namely Prof. Sarath Kotagama, when such bird ringing operations have been conducted in the North, Eastern and the Southern sea board regions and the interior in collaboration with the Natural History of Bombay.

Besides G.M. Henry's 'Guide to the Birds of Ceylon' other British residents, Army Officials, administrators of the C.C.S. had written authoritative books on the Birds of Sri Lanka.

Among them are Cicely Lushington, 'Familiar Birds of Ceylon' and 'Bird Life in Ceylon' with lively colour plates of Birds, Captain Vincent Legge - 'A History of the Birds of Ceylon', W.E. Wait (C.C.S), 'Manual of the Birds of Ceylon'.

Coming to the authorities on Indian birds, who have written books on birds of India are Salim Ali, 'The Book on Indian Birds', Dillon Ripley 'Hand book of Birds of India and Pakistan' a ten volume publication authored by Salim Ali and Dillon Ripley.

by Gamini G. Punchihewa

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