Marked Birds Database – basic workflow

In this article I will describe a regular, day-to-day use of the Marked Birds Database.

The way it is described here is the way you will use the database most often. It is also the way I think is most efficient.

See these steps explained in this video:

Note: the video shows a relatively old version of the database; some changes may exist. However, the principle is the same.

Basic steps

The process is as follows:

After observing ringed birds in the field, you will:

  1. Add birds and observations
  2. Send out your observations to the ringers
  3. Process the received ringing details

1. Adding birds and observations

So you’ve been out in the field and have (hopefully) seen a nice number of ringed birds. Some of these birds may already exist in the database while others need to be added as new. You may also have seen these birds at different locations.

When having visited multiple locations, the best way is to first process all observations of one location before processing those of another location. The reason for this is that the location details will be stored in memory so that adding observations takes just a few mouse clicks.

So the first aim is to get the location details into the memory.

The easiest way to do this is to start with a bird that already exists in the database. Locate that bird and on the Bird Overview layout, click Add Observation.


Fill out all details using any of the available tabs.

The database will have automatically added you as an observer, but you can add other observers if needed. When done, click Copy in the Observation Details tab. This will copy all location details as well as the list of observers to memory.

Finally, click Save and click Close to return to the Bird Overview layout.

Then, locate the next bird, click Add Observation, Paste, add any notes, click Save and click Close to return to the Bird Overview layout.

Once you become familiar with this process you will see that processing a list of observations will be very quick, especially when all or most of the birds already exist: locate the bird, click Add Observation, Paste, Save and Close.

If you have seen a bird which does not exist, simply add it and once you are in the Bird Overview layout for that bird, follow the above steps.

About adding images

The way I normally work is to first process my notes from my notebook, after which I will process any images and add them to each observation as a separate step. Feel free though to try out a few ways to see what works best for you.

2. Sending out observations

The next step in the process is to report your observations to the ringer or ringing station. There are various ways of doing this by using the database, which I will describe in a later blog post. To keep things simple here, I will just assume here that you have send in your observations.

Managing your observations

To keep track of which observations you have send in and which you still have to report, 2 fields exist for each observation: ‘Observation submitted’ and ‘Life History Received’. Both fields are accompanied by a date field in which you can track when an observation was send out and when the ringing details were received.


When creating a new observation, both fields are set to No and the date fields are empty. To easily see their status, the labels for these fields are red when they are set to ‘No’ and green when set to ‘Yes’.

When reporting your observation, click the Yes field. Today’s date will be automatically set but can be adjusted when needed.

You will see the ‘Observation submitted’ and ‘Life History Received’ fields abbreviated to ’S’ (for ‘Submitted’) and ‘R’ (for ‘Received’) in various places throughout the database, for example in the list of observations on the Bird Overview layout. These fields can be clicked to change their status.


3. Processing the received ringing data

After receiving the ringing details of a bird we can update the date when the bird was ringed, the location where that took place as well as the age of the bird at the time of ringing. Knowing the ringing age allows us to update the Current Age of the bird as well as the age of the bird for each observation.

Updating the ringing details is done by updating the Marker Event for each Marker. From the General menu, choose Marker Events. The Marker Events for each Marker that is fitted to the bird are shown.


We will assume here that when a bird is fitted with multiple Markers, that each Marker is fitted on the same date, at the same location and by the same ringer.

For one Marker, update the fields such as the code for the metal ring, ringing date, bird age and ringing location.

Note that the Current Age for the bird is automatically updated, based on the ringing date and bird age that has been entered.

If the bird is fitted with multiple Markers, click ‘Copy Event’ for the Marker for which you have filled in the details to copy these to memory, and click the ‘Paste Event’ button for all the other Markers to paste these details.

When done, click Save.

The database detects that the ringing date and bird age have been added and offers to update the bird age for each of the observations. Click Yes.

Close the Marker Events layout to return to Bird Overview and notice that all ages for the observations have been updated.

Next we need to update each observation to indicate that we have received the life history. Do this by clicking the ‘S’ for each observation on the Bird Overview layout (the change is automatically saved), or by opening an observation and clicking the ‘Life History Received’ option followed by Save.

Adding the life history

Finally, we can add the life history to the database. From the General menu, choose Life History. Depending on how you have received it, you can add it as:

  • Plain text by copying and pasting it in the text field
  • A PDF
  • An image
  • A file in any format
  • A link to a Web site

Simply add it and click Save.

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