Karoo garden ringing

  If you would like to ring Karoo birds, book a trip with Dieter at Birds4Africa !

Visiting Vanrhynsdorp from 23-26 January 2020, a team of ringers and trainees ringed many Karoo specials including European Bee-eater, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher and Lark-like Bunting (trip report). Top numbers ringed by species were Cape Weaver, Cape Sparrow and Southern Masked-Weaver, birds that breed in the garden (Species totals in table below). Here some interesting results will be presented.

European Bee-eaters – ageing

Unexpectedly, we caught 10 European Bee-eaters that often perched on the telephone line above the net – the net was not higher than normal. Three adults had reddish eyes, brownish wings and backs, and brighter colours below, while the seven juveniles had brown eyes and upperparts more greenish (see photos below). The adults also had the two central tail feathers extending 20-30 mm beyond the rest of the tail.

Measurements – the wing and tail (even excluding central feathers) were longer in the adults, while the weight and bill lengths were similar in both groups. none of the birds was moulting yet, indicating that these were all birds of the breeding population (that migrates to central Africa).

European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater, adult


European Bee-eater
European Bee-eater, juvenile


Karoo Scrub-Robins – trapping

Two spring traps baited with mealworms, were put up in different locations in the garden.  Seven Karoo Scrub-Robins were caught in the spring-traps. one was recaptured in a mist net a day later, but this species is best caught with spring traps!

Karoo Scrub-Robin
Karoo Scrub-Robin


African Red-eyed Bulbul – range

Three African Red-eyed Bulbuls were caught, and no Cape Bulbuls. The African Red-eyed Bulbul is expanding its range southwards, while the Cape Bulbul occurs from Cape Town northwards through towards Namibia. One of the African Red-eyed Bulbuls was a juvenile, indicating successful breeding.

African Red-eyed Bulbul
African Red-eyed Bulbul, juvenile


African Red-eyed Bulbul (green grids – SABAP1 1987-1991, blue grids SABP2 2007-2020, marker R shows our ringed bulbuls)


Table. Birds ringed and recaptured in Vanrhynsdorp garden, January 2020

The total birds caught was 229 birds (215 ringed) of 26 species. Recaptures were relatively low at 14, indicating a high number of birds present overall.

Sp no Species Latin n
317 Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis 11
318 Namaqua Dove Oena capensis 3
391 White-backed Mousebird Colius colius 1
392 Red-faced Mousebird Urocolius indicus 3
404 European Bee-eater Merops apiaster 10
418 African Hoopoe Upupa africana 1
506 Rock Martin Hirundo fuligula 1
544 African Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans 3
570 Familiar Chat Cercomela familiaris 2
581 Cape Robin-Chat Cossypha caffra 2
583 Karoo Scrub-Robin Cercotrichas coryphoeus 7
606 African Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus 3
653 Namaqua Warbler Phragmacia substriata 2
665 Fiscal Flycatcher Sigelus silens 4
678 Fairy Flycatcher Stenostira scita 1
686 Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis 2
760 Southern Double-collared Sunbird Cinnyris chalybeus 7
784 House Sparrow Passer domesticus 2
786 Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus 48
799 Cape Weaver Ploceus capensis 54
803 Southern Masked-Weaver Ploceus velatus 24
808 Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix 12
865 White-throated Canary Crithagra albogularis 4
867 Streaky-headed Seedeater Crithagra gularis 1
871 Lark-like Bunting Emberiza impetuani 6
1172 Cape White-eye Zosterops virens 15


Portfolio – African Hoopoe, Lark-like Bunting, Fairy Flycatcher, Southern Double-collared Sunbird


Thanks to Salome for hosting us!


  If you would like to ring Karoo birds, book a trip with Dieter at Birds4Africa !
Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.