Marked Birds Database Manual – Working with birds

This article is part of the Marked Birds Database manual and describes how to work with individual birds.

Adding a new bird

In the Bird Overview screen, click Add a Bird with Markers and from the screen that appears, choose an option.

Birds can be added manually or by importing them from the BirdRing app.

See also Adding birds.

Deleting a bird

In the Bird Overview screen, click Delete Bird. The bird will be deleted, including all of its observations, rings, images, and so on.

Standard image

A standard image can be added to each bird to show what the bird looks like. The image is shown on the Bird Overview screen and in some search results.

To make an image the standard image for a bird, the image first needs to be added to an observation for that bird.

When viewing an image, click its yellow star icon to make it the standard bird image.


For each bird an unlimited number of observations can be added. Ringing activities (including ringing controls) are also added as an observation.


An unlimited number of Markers (rings, wing tags, neck collars, and so on) can be added to each bird.

For each Marker it is possible to keep track of Markers that the bird was fitted with in the past, Markers that were lost, damaged, and more.

See Working with Markers and Marker Events.

Visual Display

Depending on the project, the way that rings are fitted can be shown in a graphic referred to as the Visual Display. When such a display is not available, a list view is used instead.

The correct Visual Display is automatically set when the bird is added but can be changed via the Main Menu > Bird Settings.

Note: when rings are not displayed correctly or are invisible, check the settings for that ring in the Marker Events screen.

Life histories

A life history can be added for a bird in the following formats:

  • Text
  • PDF
  • Image
  • Hyperlink
  • Any file as an attachment

The life history is accessed by opening the main menu and choosing Life History.

When working in the Bird Overview or Observation Details screen, click Quick View to quickly view the life history without leaving the screen.

See Working with life histories.


For each bird, 3 different ages are defined:

  1. The ringing age: the age at the time the bird was ringed
  2. The observation age: the age at the time the bird was observed
  3. The current age: the age of the bird today. This is displayed at the top of most screens.

As an observer, you will most likely only (roughly) know the age of the bird at the time when you observed it.

When adding the bird to the database, this age is then also used as the Current Age. This is done automatically.

When creating an observation for that bird, the observation age is automatically set, even when the observation date was in the past.

When you have received the life history and have updated the ringing details including the ringing age, the Current Age is automatically re-calculated and you are asked if the observation age should be automatically updated too.

Calendar years

All bird ages in the database are tracked as calendar years. When a bird is born, it is in its first calendar year. The following year it is in its second calendar year, and so on.

On January 1st of each year, the Current Age should therefore be increased with a value of 1. The update process itself is done automatically but it needs to be started manually through Manage MBDB > Actions > Update Current Age for All Birds.

It is advised to do this as soon as possible when the New Year has arrived because the Current Age is used for automatically setting the observation age when a new observation is created.

Current Marker Code

After adding a bird to the database, it needs to be easily found again. This is done by using the Current Marker Code which represents the markers that the bird is currently fitted with.

This is typically the code on the ring in combination with the colors of the ring or the ringing station. For some projects the short notation for writing down the code is used.

To make entering this code easy, characters such as dots, hyphens or spaces are usually left out.

Example: a bird fitted with a green ring with white code Y.BMD will have Current Marker Code G-YBMD or G[YBMD], depending on your preference. Finding the bird can be done by simply searching for YBMD.

The Current Marker Code is automatically generated when the bird is added. The writing style is based on the settings set in Manage MBDB > Preferences > Notations.

When a bird is fitted with a new ring, or a ring is lost, it would be wise to update the Current Marker Code to reflect this.

Example: A bird is fitted with only a metal ring Arnhem 1234567. Its Current Marker Code is then ‘Arnhem-1234567’. Some time later, colour ring Green ABCD is added. The Current Marker Code is then manually changed to ‘G-ABCD’.

The Current Marker Code is also added to each observation. When a bird is fitted with additional or other rings, the Current Marker Code changes to reflect this. By looking at the list of observations in the Bird Overview screen, you can see from the Current Marker Code field which rings the bird was fitted with at that time.


For birds that are not seen very often it can be difficult sometimes to remember with which code they exist in the database. It is therefore possible to also add a nickname to a bird, such as “Bird with half a leg”.


Images for a bird can be added by adding them to an observation. It is not possible to add an image without first creating an observation.

One of the images can be set as the standard image to represent that bird. The image will be shown on the Bird Overview screen and in some search results. Set this image by viewing an image and clicking its yellow star icon.

To view all images that exist for a bird, do one of the following:

  • Click Available Images at the bottom of the screen.
  • From the main menu, choose Images.

See Working with images.

Setting the sex

Once a bird has been added, setting the sex of a bird can only be done in the Bird Overview screen.

When a bird is dead

When a bird is deceased, an observation can be created for it. When selecting the check box named ‘Mortis’ in the observation, the bird status is automatically set to ‘Mortis’ and an icon is shown in front of each observation that is shown in a list (such as on the Bird Overview layout or in search results).

It is also possible to just change the status to Mortis on the Bird Overview screen without creating an observation. The species name will appear in red on the Bird Overview screen to visualise this.

In the search results of Search Extra it will have a small cross next to its species name.

Setting the colors of the Current Marker Code

When viewing a list of all observations or all birds, the Current Marker Code is shown in the colours of the ring. The ring colour is used as the background colour for the Current Marker Code and the inscription colour is used as the text colour. This is done automatically when the bird is added to the system. Changing these colours can be done in the Bird Settings screen.

Attended ringing sessions

At the bottom of the Bird Overview screen, select the option ‘Ringing Session Attended’. (A more advanced way of keeping track of attended ringing sessions is planned for a future version.)

Adding the partner of a bird

When a partner of a bird is also ringed and also exists in the database, add its Current Marker Code in Bird Settings > Partner.

This Current Marker Code will then appear at the top of the Bird Overview screen and at the top of the Observation Details screen together with a Show button. This allows you to quickly switch between both birds without having to perform a search for one of them.


Create a reference when you want to keep track of any publication that the bird is part of, such as an article (newspaper or scientific), blog post, or tweet.

References are accessed by opening the main menu and choosing References.

Bird species

Bird species that are often used can best be created in the database via Manage MBDB > Bird Species. The fields that are set are used in various places in the database:

  • Name: Used throughout the database. When choosing a bird species from a list, other options are automatically set.
  • Scientific name
  • Euring code. Mainly used for the BirdRing import and in some reports.
  • Color of body and leg. Used in the Visual Displays for showing how the Markers are fitted to a bird.

Bird activities

One of the fields that can be tracked for an observation is the bird activity (foraging, preening, present, and so on). When an activity is often used, add it to the database so that it can be chosen from the list: Manage MBDB > Bird Activity.


Searching for a bird can be done anywhere in the database, but how the results that are shown depend on where the search is performed.

Finding an individual bird is typically done in the Bird Overview screen.

See also Searching.


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