SEEN - SE European Bird Migration Network
Ringing as a tool to study bird migration patterns and bird conservation in Africa, with a focus on the Great Rift Valley (GRV)

Przemyslaw Busse
Bird Migration Research Station, University of GdaƄsk, Przebendowo, 84-210 Choczewo, Poland
e-mail: busse@univ.gda.pl

Bird ringing is more than a 100-year old, traditional method to study bird migration and has revealed much about the migration and wintering grounds for many Palearctic species. However, uneven reporting rates have often led to varying interpretations of recovery patterns. This is most visible for migrants along the eastern European flyway and throughout the wintering grounds in Africa, where the reporting rate is very low. In this paper I describe and discuss strategies that are needed to improve migration data and knowledge for African-Eurasian migrants, with an emphasis on the Great Rift Valley. These include: increased ringing efforts in Africa, which should focus on  morphometrics, fat scoring and weight, orientation tests, feather sampling for stable isotopes, microelements and genetical studies, and biotope selection. Identification and protection of critical stopover sites for migrants is crucial for the survival of migrants and more studies are needed in this regard, particularly in Africa. Initiatives such as the Great Rift Valley (GRV) Project, South-East European Bird Migration Network (SEEN) and the African Bird Migration Network can collaborate in unifying aims and methods of research on African-Eurasian migrants, as well as raising awareness and training researchers.

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