Home > News & Reviews > News > Bird Ringing with Izzy Fry

Bird Ringing with Izzy Fry

In the February issue of our See Nature newsletter, Ambassador Izzy Fry introduced us to one of her favourite conservation activities - bird ringing. Read on to find out more about what bird ringing involves and how it helps wildlife.

Hi everyone! My name is Izzy Fry, I am a 17 year old aspiring wildlife conservationist living on my family’s farm in Wiltshire. I’m currently at school studying Geography, Biology and Environmental Science, but when I haven’t got my head stuck in a revision book, I’m usually outside getting involved in a range of nature and wildlife conservation work with various organisations, for example bird ringing for the British Trust for Ornithology!

The wonder of bird migration has fascinated and puzzled people for centuries. For so long, their movements were unknown and their lives a secret. For over 100 years, we have been slowly unravelling the secrets of birds using ringing. Run by the BTO, the ringing scheme is one of the longest running conservation studies.

Bird ringing involves a trained and licensed ringer fitting a light-weight, uniquely numbered ring to a wild bird’s leg. This allows movements to be tracked if the bird is encountered again (this can be through it being seen in the field, caught by another ringer or from dead birds). When ringing a bird, we also collect other data including the wing length, age and sex of the bird which further helps us to understand individual species.

When ringing began, it provided the first information on bird’s migration. It answered the questions of where different species go after leaving our shores.  Today ringing is still helping us to understand migration, but it is also used to look in detail at the lives of birds; helping us to monitor breeding success and changes in birds populations.

We catch the birds in a number of ways, but the most common being mist nets. Mist nets are typically made of nylon or polyester suspended between two poles – they are very hard to see when you don’t know they are there! The birds fly into the nest and fall into little pockets where they stay until we carefully extract them.

I have been ringing for just over two years now, and have really enjoyed it! I have learnt so much more about individual species and about the science behind conservation. My group operates throughout Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire in a range of different habitats from woodland and farmland, to scrub in chalk grassland. It is wonderful to be involved in bird ringing and contribute to a conservation effort.

If you want to follow Izzy's conservation journey you can find her on Instagram @izzyfryphotography or check out her website.