Ringing is a method used to monitor and study wild bird populations. Marking idividuals makes it possible to study migration routes and patterns, and population dynamics (birth rates, survival rates, causes of mortality). The continuity of the programme, which began in Belgium in 1927, makes it possible to study long-term trends, which is particularly relevant when assessing the state of the environment and the effects of climate change.
The Belgian Bird Ringing Centre seeks to: organise the collection of quality data, by a coherent network of qualified volunteer ringers; make this data available to scientists, professionals and amateurs, authorities and decision makers; and promote the development of knowledge by being involved in graduate training; develop dedicated research programmes in nature conservation.
The objectives of the Belgian Bird Ringing Centre are to contribute to conservation biology focusing on continuity in data collection, sample quality, methodological analysis, and the promotion of environmental studies. As such, the centre is helping Belgium, and its federated units, to meet their bird population monitoring obligations, especially those of migratory birds.
The centre’s main areas of expertise are: the study of migration routes and patterns, population fluctations, invasive species problems, long-term monitoring of sensitive species, epidemiological surveillance in wild birds, and sharing knowledge with the public.
One of its programmes, Falcons for Everyone, is popular with the general public. Started in 2005, this project puts the peregrine falcon couple nesting at St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral in Brussels on display via a system of webcams and screens. This system offers the public the opportunity to watch the nesting cycle with continuous live footage available on a website and at the observation post on the square in front of the cathedral in April-May.
The Belgian Bird Ringing Centre is part of the EURING network, the association of European bird ringing centres. The centre works directly with universities with a view to exploiting the data.
This work is carried out in Belgium with the help of a network of 51 ringing groups and stations with a total of 374 volunteer ringers. In 2012, 675,011 wild birds were ringed in Belgium.
The RBINS Bird Ringing Centre is primarily financed by the Belgian Science Policy Office and by the ringers themselves.