Scientific measurements on a Robin
The international network of fully co-ordinated ringing stations and National Ringing Schemes is indispensable for the efficient management of scientific bird ringing in Europe. The Valletta Bird Ringing Scheme, which is currently run by BirdLife Malta, is a member of the European Union for Bird Ringing (EURING).
In Malta, as in most European countries, prospective ringers must undergo a period of training. Trainee ringers are taught standardized methods for capturing, extracting, weighing and measuring birds. The training period typically lasts between one and three years. Training is critical for bird ringing, to ensure that birds are handled in a safe and responsible manner.
Ringing is carried out by licensed ringers throughout the year, with activity increasing during migration periods. This fieldwork is complimented by a number of bird ringing projects that are held on a yearly basis in the Maltese Islands. These include;
Constant Effort Sites. There are currently two constant effort sites in Malta that are carried out at the BirdLife Malta nature reserves Ghadira
. At these sites, bird ringing is undertaken daily throughout the year, allowing us to investigate yearly changes in species diversity and abundance.
Barn Swallow roosts – BirdLife Malta carried out ringing of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in support of the Europe-wide EURING study on this species throughout its migratory routes. Although this project is now finished, we continue to monitor yearly migratory passage of this species, along with the roosts of other species such as White Wagtails Motacilla alba.
Comino Bird Ringing Project
– Comino (Kemmuna) is a Special Protection Area (SPA) of key importance for migratory birds. The study carried out by BirdLife Malta records year-on-year changes in population sizes and age structures of the main migratory species passing over Malta.
– BirdLife Malta carries out yearly monitoring of the breeding colonies of the islands’ seabird populations. Malta is of unique importance to species like the European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus
and the Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan
. The yelkouan is now the focus of the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project
Results of all of ringing activity are published in BirdLife Malta’s scientific journal Il-Merill.