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~ Longevity & Site Fidelity ~

Ringers often consider retrapped birds as being the “poor relations” during the a day’s ringing, but these retraps provide us with the individual bird’s unique history.

Sometimes a particular bird will only be caught in a certain month of the year for several consecutive years. This indicates the bird is using Stanford as a stopping off point during its annual migration between countries or, if it is a resident UK species, during local movement.  A good example of this is a Willow Warbler (1W8238). Originally ringed as a juvenile in Cambridgeshire (July1994), retrapped the following year in Sussex and then trapped only once or twice at Stanford in each of several consecutive years (1998 -2001) during the Spring migration period.

Some birds resident at Stanford throughout the year will be retrapped many times throughout their life and we have several instances of such birds being retrapped over twenty times with one particular Dunnock (R181637) having been trapped on some thirty occasions over a six year period.  We have several examples of long lived birds (illustrating faithfulness to a site - site fidelity, as well as old age).  Two examples of migrants are -
  • Willow Warbler (9M7179) ringed as a juvenile in 2000, and last retrapped in 2007
  • Reed Warbler (N592592) ringed as a juvenile in 1999 and continually retrapped for a further ten years at Stanford until 2009

Stanford Reservoir currently holds the UK and European record for longevity of three species -
  • Roseate Tern [SK080..] found dead on 24/5/2004 having been ringed as a nestling in Ireland on 16/7/1980, 23 years, 10 months and 8 days previously.
  • Grasshopper Warbler [A 889049] ringed as an adult at Stanford on 16/5/1981 and retrapped on another nine occasions with the final one being at Stanford on 1/6/1986 (5 years and 16 days).
  • Garden Warbler
More information on Bird Longevity in the UK can be found here at the BTO website.

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