Marking birds

Marking birds

SYMPOSIUM ON RECORDING ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR This symposium, organized by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour was held at Queen Mary College,...

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SYMPOSIUM ON RECORDING ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR This symposium, organized by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour was held at Queen Mary College, London, on Thursday and Friday, the 25th and 26th March, 1965 .


Marking methods are of two main types ; individual and group-marking. New methods of individual marking are rare and most methods still use coloured paints or mutilation, such as cutting notches in the pronotum of cockroaches. Several new group methods have been described ; fluorescent dusts and paints to study the behaviour of Glassina, Aedes, Drosophila, grasshoppers and boll-weevils, and genetical markers to study the mating range of bees . Radio-isotopes are now extensively used for group-marking a wide range of animals . Recently, autoradiographic methods of detecting small quantities of different radio-istopes, used for studying the dispersion and mating behaviour of mosquitoes, have been published. Predation of

tagged aphids and mosquito larvae and food exchange patterns in social insects have also been studied. My work with P32-marked slugs illustrates some of the problems associated with this marking technique including those of dosimetry, relocation of the isotope within the animals and the effective duration of the tag . The effects of the radio-isotopes on the life-span, breeding and behaviour of tagged animals are inherant disadvantages and should be measured and eliminated as far as possible . Gamma-emitting isotopes are especially useful for studying the subterranean movements of animals . An apparatus was described, and exhibited which injects a small pellet of Ta 1 s 2 wire into the haemocoel of slugs enabling them to be tracked below ground .

MARKING BIRDS. By I. J. PATTERSON, Natural History Department, University of Aberdeen .

The existing method used for marking birds were reviewed and their advantages and disadvantages discussed . A new marker, developed by A . Anderson of Aberdeen University, was described in detail . This consists of a coloured plastic tag attached to the patagium by a stain-

less pin, so that it hangs among the wing covert feathers . These wing tags have been used on Eider ducks, Waterhens, Rooks and Blackheaded Gulls, and are very conspicuous without hindering the bird .

METHODS OF MARKING MAMMALS. By IAN LINN, Department of Zoology, Hatherly Biological Laboratories, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, Devon.

Mammals are marked for three main purposes (1) so that they may be identified when seen, (2) so that their location at any given moment may be determined, and (3) so that they may be identified when recaptured . The first of these is perhaps the most difficult to achieve . Ideally no marking at all is necessary ; mountain hares may be identified in winter by the individual variation of their natural coat

markings . Failing that, splashes of dye may be used on their white coats . For rabbits, ear tags with large numbers have proved successful . Dye marks are useful also on voles, and are best used on pale mutant strains . Collars in various colours and patterns can easily identify animals from stoats- to deer, but have some snags . Reflecting tape makes collars easily seen with a torch at night . For mammals, the second category will usually involve the use of radio-active tracers, 579