Lapwing colour-ringing

Once a lapwing brood reaches around 25 days we aim to catch them to fit colour rings. Colour-marking is used in our project to inform our understanding of lapwing survival, site fidelity and movement.

Colour rings are a great non-invasive and cost-effective way to monitor surival and movement in birds. Once rings are fitted there is no need for re-capture the bird as each individual has a unique combination of colour rings and a black flag unique to our project. Without the need for recapture we can gather more data on survival and dispersal without disturbance.

Resightings of birds during the breeding season tell us the breeding site preferences of our lapwing, which help us deduce what is driving site choice and whether it is consistent between years. Overwinter sightings can inform us about the pressures our lapwing may face whilst on their wintering grounds beyond the Avon Valley. We are utilising this information improve how we promote lapwing recovery in the Avon Valley.

Lapwing chicks that we have colour-ringed, when close to fledging, have been resighted in subsequent years breeding back in the valley close to where they fledged, but also breeding on adjoining arable fields and in the New Forest 22 km away. 

Take the bird in the video below (please watch video in full screen mode for best viewing experience):

The bird shown, Nf//RN-G//Nm or in full “left above: black-flag, left below: red over black, right above: green, left below: black over metal”. She (…we can tell because of the white in her breast, black-brownish colour of her breast throat and head and short crest…) was ringed as a just fledging chick in May 2015 on a water meadow and resighted breeding on an adjacent arable field 7.07km away in April this year. We were excited when we resighted this bird as it had not been seen breeding back in the valley, since it was originally colour ringed, but as you can see, she was attentively sitting on a nest. As we have only started monitoring arable fields this year, we cannot say if she has been breeding at this site previously, but we will now see if she is faithful to this site in sequent years.

In addition to breeding on other sites within the valley, to date, c.30% of resightings of colour-ringed lapwings during the breeding season have been outside the Avon Valley. Understanding the extent of post-juvenile dispersal and juvenile recruitment is important when working on a recovering population and it is something we are trying to gather more information on through the Waders for Real project.

Colour rings are a very popular method of monitoring wading birds as their legs are often exposed when roosting and feeding. There are many different projects across the world using this method with some very exciting findings, including longevity records and details on migration. So, make sure you check the legs for colour rings next time you are out bird watching! 

If you spot a colour-ringed lapwing you can contact us directly at or through our contact us page to report the sighting and recieve information back on the history of the bird

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