Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Ripe Old Age for a Blackbird

Another weekend and another missed opportunity for ringing due to strong winds and heavy rain showers....will it never end! 

Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica


So with no hope of mist netting I popped over to the local stables to check on the status of the resident Barn Swallows. There are 20 stables at this site and it was pleasing to see that most of the horses were out in the paddocks so I would be able to check the nests. The swallows were back and settled in, but not in as many numbers as last year, but still eight nests had eggs in, and another five looked to be active so I will have to pop back.

With the weather deteriorating I decided to do some data entry and whilst entering details from my last ringing session at Manor Farm Country Park, on 27th May, I noticed the age of a male Blackbird I had retrapped. This bird was originally ringed at Manor Farm on 16th November 2003, a distant 8 years 193 days previously, as a first year male. Although the age of this bird is not a national longevity record, which currently stands at 14 years 2 months and 1 day, it was by far the oldest retrap of any birds I have ringed. The bird wasn't in very good body condition and was well below the usual body weight, weighing only 80.8 grams (the usual range is 87 - 127 grams), which I presume is a result of working overtime feeding chicks rather than old age. Interestingly, it was only the third time it had been captured since its ringing date, so it would appear it doesn't frequent the farm museum very often, or else it remembers what a mist net looks like!

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