Recent ringing specials

Half way through 2023 and the Birds4Africa/BDI ringing events have produced many interesting ringing catches.

To attend a ringing event, see Calendar.

Note: Number ringed to date (SAFRING) refers to the total number of ringing records for the species in southern Africa, from 1948 to now. If the value is less than 75, then on average of less than 1 individual has been ringed per year.


Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush, 3/10/2023, Kakoma, Zambia


On a recent Zambia ringing expedition we caught a Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush Stizorhina fraseri in the forest on the banks of the West Lunga River. This appears to be the first one of the species to be ringed in Zambia. In the SAFRING database only one has been previously ringed (in Cameroon), although some may have been ringed with rings from other schemes. The wing and tail were slightly larger than the measurements given in Birds of Africa (Vol 4, p455-457) although the published values probably were taken on specimens rather than live birds. Mass of 37.7 g fits well with the published values of 27-44g. The open wing shows a distinct pale tawny wing bar.

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 1 (CA42310 in Cameroon)
Longevity: n/a in SAFRING (longevities); in NE Gabon, 2 adults ringed were recaptured 8 years later (Birds of Africa).

Burchell’s Courser, 6/09/2023, New Holme


On a recent New Holme ringing course we caught one of a pair of Burchell’s Coursers  in the karoo veld on the farm. I had placed a spring trap near a termite mound to try and catch larks. I walked about 150m towards the coursers (knowing that they would fly away) but to have another lark trap. Amazingly, the pair flew towards the first spring trap and landed very near to it. As I watched, one courser saw the mealworm, walked to it and was caught! (Two larks were caught in spring traps later.)

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 37
Longevity: n/a (longevities)

Sickle-winged Chat, 2/07/2023, Vanrhynsdorp

On our recent Botuin course we caught two Sickle-winged Chats in the karoo veld outside Vanrhynsdorp. The first one was caught in a spring trap and the second in a mistnet. The tip of the outer primary has a distinct sickle shape, hence the species name, but a feature not apparent without catching the bird!

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 47
Longevity: 2 weeks (longevities)

Eurasian Golden Oriole, 30/06/2023, Vanrhynsdorp

Very unexpectedly a Eurasian Golden Oriole was found in a net at Botuin near a fig tree. This oriole is a migrant species, breeding in the northern hemisphere. The bird we caught was an immature bird that was overwintering in South Africa. They visit the southern coast of the Western Cape and have previously been recorded as far north as Citrusdal. This record was far from any previous sighting or record.

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 180
Longevity: <2 months (longevities)

Spotted Eagle Owl, 10/06/2023, Vondeling

Spotted Eagle Owl, named after the large white spots in the wings


Early morning this adult Spotted Eagle Owl flew into a large mesh net, even though this net was fairly low.

A few thousand of these owls have been ringed in southern Africa, many of them as nestlings or older birds that were rehabilitated. Some have been caught by bal-chatri, but  probably very few have been caught in nets.

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 3446
Longevity: 10y 4m

Indian Peafowl, 9/06/2023, Vondeling

Indian Peafowl


The attendees worked hard to catch this peafowl! We put large mesh nets near the grove of oak trees where a large number of peafowl roost each night. These birds are completely feral, feeding in the nearby vineyards during the day and breeding in the area. They have been here many years, according to the owners, and are not fed.

In the morning the birds flew out from the roost trees, most flying well over the nest. One bird managed to duck under a net, even though it reached the ground. We then decided to try at night, when the peafowl walk slowly up to the trees. A group walked right up to the nets and then around them. We ran towards them and two birds flew into the nets in an attempt to flee to the vineyard. One got out of the nets, I grabbed the other. And so the first wild caught peafowl was ringed with a SAFRING ring (several rehabilitated birds have been ringed too).

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 8
Longevity: n/a

Bronze Mannikin, 31/05/2023, Rondebosch


Bronze Mannikin
Bronze Mannikin


The Bronze Mannikin does not naturally occur in the Western Cape. Several years ago, someone released a group in Rondebosch, Cape Town, and these birds established a feral population. They were soon established in Kirstenbosch and now extend throughout the southern suburbs of Cape Town. None have been ringed in Cape Town (although many thousands in its natural range) until I decided to start targeting them., They regularly visit bird feeders in gardens, so can be caught without too much difficulty.

Bronze Mannikins have an extended moult season, sometimes showing irregular moult. However, nothing is known about the feral population in Cape Town, hence the start of a ringing project on this population.

Ten were caught and ringed with a SAFRING ring on the first session in Les Underhill’s garden. More have been caught in other gardens since.

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 22557
Longevity: 3y 8m 10d

Spike-heeled Lark, 7/02/2023, Vanrhynsdorp

Spike-heeled Lark

Larks often live in open areas, meaning that mist nets are fairly visible and easily avoided. However, placing nets along fence lines may help increase the catch slightly, as birds fly to perch on the fence.

Ringing in the open karoo with many nets, we caught two on this particular day. Ground living birds often have relatively long claws – these two birds had claws of  12.3 and 12.4 mm (suspected female and male, respectively).

Fact sheet:
Number ringed to date (SAFRING): 323
Longevity: 5y 6m 14d

Stories from previous years coming soon:

30/10/2022 359 Barn Owl
04/09/2022 278 Double-banded Courser
01/12/2021 485 Grey-backed Sparrow-lark
01/12/2021 619 Rufous-eared Warbler
02/11/2021 362 Wood Owl
25/01/2020 404 European Bee-eater
24/01/2020 653 Namaqua Warbler
18/10/2019 647 Croaking Cisticola
17/08/2019 53 Greater Frigatebird
15/08/2019 295 Sooty Tern
31/07/2019 436 Red-fronted Tinker Barbet
27/02/2019 463 Large-billed Lark
08/08/2018 656 Bluegrey Flycatcher [Ashy]
08/08/2018 447 Golden-tailed Woodpecker