For more than a hundred years, birds have been ringed with a metal ring. As a result, we learn more and more about the bird, but only if it is found dead or is caught again.

In recent years, however, we are ringing some bird species with colour rings. These are very light coloured plastic rings, which can be engraved with letters or numbers. The big difference is that we can read the rings of these birds with good binoculars or telescopes in the field, while the bird is just in his natural habitat. The rings make the bird unique, which means that no bird walks around with the same letters, or colour combination.

Some black-tailed godwits in the Netherlands are also equipped with colour rings. There are several projects in the Netherlands of which Friesland is the largest. These projects are coordinated by the University of Groningen.

Black-tailed godwits are fitted with four rings and a flag on the upper leg, the tibia. The rings are available in four colours: Red, Yellow, Blue and Lime (a mint green colour).

Since May 2015 we use four new colours; Green, Carmine (bright pink), Pale Blue and White.

The flag is used in the same four colours and can be in six positions: Above, between, below, left or right between the rings. In this way, thousands of combinations are possible.

It is therefore important that you note this properly, if necessary make a schematic drawing.

All information about colour-ringed godwits, obviously place, date and time, are very important to us. It is also interesting to know what the godwit did and how large the group was.

Why do we ring Black-tailed Godwits?

Godwit ringing data are useful in both research and management projects. Individual identification of birds makes it possible to study the; dispersal, migration,  behaviour, social structure, life-span, survival rate, reproductive success and
population growth.

Astrid Kant rings godwits with coloured rings in the Vijfheerenlanden, the area between Lek and Linge.

For all information about colour-ringed godwits and schematics, please visit

Have you noticed a ringed godwit, please report it to us. You always get an answer.
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Astrid Kant Meadow Birds, E-mail: grutto.astrid@xs4all





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