The bird ringing scheme in Britain, run by the British Trust for Ornithology, is the largest outside North America, but there is cause for disquiet in the relatively small output of published analyses and of other papers making use of ringing data. With admirable persistence an annual report has been published giving summary tables of the numbers of birds ringed and recovered, together with a highly selective list of detailed recoveries, dealing with just a fraction of the year's total. Recently, rather more information has been compressed into the same space by the use of maps and tables. Also included in each report is a list of the papers and short notes published in the year in question that are based wholly or partly on data derived from the ringing scheme. A survey of the twelve reports for 1961-72 reveals just over 100 titles in these lists, of which about 80 are based mainly on ringing results, the remainder only partly so. This total may seem quite commendable but is small in comparison with the amount of data available. It is also heavily biased towards the interests of rather few professionals and students pursuing their particular subject.

The sheer quantity of data being gathered by Britain's 1,600 or so ringers is staggering. About half a million birds are ringed each year, while there is an unknown but undoubtedly very large number of recaptures. This mass ringing produces an average of over 12,000 recoveries annually. Encouraged by the BTO, the majority of ringers do not just ring and release each bird but also record weight, several measurements, moult data, and so on. 

Volume: 
Issue 2
Start Page: 
53
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