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. When an image is set as the standard image the star is coloured purple.

Downloading all images

To download all images of a bird in one action, go to Main menu > Images and click the download button.

You will be asked to choose a folder in which to download all images. After confirming the location, all images are automatically downloaded.


For each bird an unlimited number of observations can be added. Ringing activities (including ringing controls) are also added as an observation. See Using the Observation Details screen.


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 > Marker Events or via 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. Also note that each Visual Display requires specific leg positions to be set.

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.

To remind you of this, a message will appear in the database when the date changes to January 1st.

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.

Setting the colours

The Current Marker Code is also shown in overviews such as search results in Search Extra or all observations made on a particular day. A colour for the background and text is used. These colours are mostly set automatically and changing them could already be done in Bird Settings. The Current Marker Code that is shown at the top of layouts such as Bird Overview, Observation Details, Marker Events, and so on, shows these colours. The colours can be quickly changed by clicking the cog wheel next to the field.


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.

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.)


Keep track of relations between birds by using the Relations feature.

The following types of relations can be tracked:

  • Partner
  • Father
  • Mother
  • Son
  • Daughter
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Niece
  • Nephew
  • Cousin

For more information, see Working with relations.


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.

Custom data

I have created the Marked Birds Database for myself and have made it available as such to the ring reading community. Most of the features that the database contains will be of use to you, but some of them won’t. At the same time, you might want to track data that I don’t track.

I have therefore made it possible to track up to 5 custom fields for an observation, and 5 for a bird.

These fields can be found in Observation Details > Custom Data, and in Bird Settings > Custom Data.

By default, the tab in which the fields are shown is named ‘Custom data’ and the label of a field is named ‘Field 1’, ‘Field 2’, and so on.

This is what it looks like in Bird Settings:

Use the Settings button to set the following:

  • The name of the tab
  • The label of each field
  • If the field should be a text field or date field (available in Bird Settings only)
  • If the field should be hidden

For example, you could set the custom fields in Bird Settings to ‘Research’ and name a field ‘Wintering location’ and another one ‘Earliest egg laying date’ and yet another one ‘Average egg laying date’ while hiding the other fields. Here, you would set the two egg laying fields to type ‘Date’ so that you can easily keep track of dates.


  • All fields will be available for ALL birds.
    In other words: if you used the example above, you will be tracking the wintering location and egg laying dates for all birds.
  • You can search on the fields by using Search Extra > Birds or Search Extra > Observations.
  • The fields have also been added to the Excel export of those Search Extra forms.
  • Tip: to create spacing between fields, hide the field in between.
  • All settings and entered data will be imported when upgrading to a future version.
  • The custom data fields in Bird Settings are likely going to be moved to a more suitable location. This will have to wait until after the summer break though.

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