Bird Ringing during Summer in Abisko

Gotta catch ‘em all.

Bluethroat, Photo by Ryan Richardson

Bluethroat, Photo by Ryan Richardson

Monitoring and collecting data on birds helps researchers to track the development of bird populations. If living conditions for birds change, we might find different birds at the same spot over several years. Here at the research station, birdwatchers take their share in contributing to a nationally and globally accessible data base.

Where does it take place?

Every summer, bird enthusiasts at the research station spend their Friday mornings by lake Torneträsk (right behind the station). Around the lake, the vegetation is ideal for birds to live and for us to position the nets. The vegetation covers the thin nets enough so the birds don’t usually notice them (unless it’s windy and the nets start bouncing). This also means that we have to keep our eyes open to not stumble into a net.

Net Run, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

Net Run, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

What time does bird ringing start?

At 6am, we start by opening the nets. Then, we wait. In regular intervals (about 15 - 30 minutes), we go on a “net run”. We head out to all the nets and thoroughly check them for birds. Birds that got caught in the net are carefully removed and packed into bags to transport them to the ringing station. Close by the lake and conveniently right next to the lake sauna, a table with all bird ringing equipment is set up. That’s where we collect the data. You’ll usually find us by the lake sauna until noon.

Keeping the eyes open for birds as well as nets, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

Keeping the eyes open for birds as well as nets, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

What happens once birds are caught?

First, we check whether the bird has been ringed before which is indeed a possibility. The possibility to re-catch birds is also an indication that no birds are harmed by the ringing process. Now it’s time to put a ring on the bird. Carefully, with differently sized pliers, rings specific to the species of bird and its size are attached to its leg and we collect all relevant data (species, time of capture, approximated age, sex, fat, wing size and weight).

Normally, ringing a bird is a one person job but for this special catch (a Kestrel) two people handled the bird, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

Normally, ringing a bird is a one person job but for this special catch (a Kestrel) two people handled the bird, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

Who can join?

Through our collaboration with the naturum Abisko and the local school and kindergarten, visitors come by regularly to attend the bird ringing. From around 8am, locals and tourists come by to learn about the birds living in Abisko. They also compare the bird species they encounter here to the ones in their home countries.

Visitors at bird ringing, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller

Visitors at bird ringing, Photo by Joëlle Winnemöller