Marked Birds Database

The Marked Birds Database is a system for keeping track of observations of ringed birds, regardless of the project they belong to. I have developed it as a private project for personal use since July 2013 and in December 2016 I made it available to the birding community for free.

Because of my passion for gulls it mainly revolves around observations of gulls that are fitted with leg rings of European projects. Adding other types of Markers, other species or other projects is however also possible.

On this page you can find links to download the file and to documentation and instruction videos. More screenshots can be found further down.

       fb-icon Marked Birds Database on Facebook
youtube_iconInstruction videos on YouTube


One of the main features of the Marked Birds Database is that it has been set up from the standpoint of an observer and therefore contains many tools and features that help in managing observations of multiple projects.

The Marked Birds Database allows you to:

  1. Keep track of all observations in a central location, regardless of the project a bird belongs to.
  2. Add birds with Markers through an easy to use ‘point and click’ system.
  3. Display how leg rings are fitted.
  4. Keep track of all Markers that were ever fitted to a bird and what happened to each Marker (damaged, lost, replaced, etc).
  5. Immediately see the age of a bird at the time it was ringed or observed (in calendar years).
  6. Have bird ages automatically calculated (in calendar years).
  7. Have the time since you last saw the bird automatically calculated (in years, months, and days).
  8. Store often used locations for easy re-use.
  9. Keep track of co-observers.
  10. Use country flags to visualize where an observation was made or where a bird originates from.
  11. Add an unlimited number of images or videos to each observation.
  12. Keep track of specific information such as primary moult, primary patterns, breeding data.
  13. Keep track of your own, custom data.
  14. Keep track of observations that still need to be submitted.
  15. Keep track of for which submitted observations a reply has not been received.
  16. Quickly see all observations made on a particular day.
  17. Quickly find information about an observer, ringer, or ringing project.
  18. Store life histories in text format, as a PDF or other file, as an image, or as a Web link.
  19. Perform advanced searches across all observations (again: regardless of the project the birds belong to).
  20. Easily export observations to Excel for submitting to ringers.
  21. Quickly send out an observation by email by copying automatically generated text.
  22. Import birds and observations from BirdRing.
  23. Keep track of references for birds such as publications, articles, weblinks, etc.
  24. Keep track of bird relations.
  25. Keep track of the weather and tide at the time of the observation.
  26. And much more…

What do you get?

An empty database that you can install on your own system (MacOS or Windows) in which you can add your own birds and observations.

What about updates?

Whenever I add new features I will make a new version available. The database comes with an import function with which you can easily import all data from one version to another.

What the database does not do?

The database does not connect to or import from another system.


Current version: 2.13.0 (6 April 2021 (see the announcement)

The files are hosted on Dropbox.

Please read the installation instructions and the basic setup steps.


Instructions for using the Marked Birds Database can be found in the Marked Birds Database Manual.


For any questions about the Marked Birds Database, contact me at gulls [at]


1. Adding a bird manually:


2. The main screen for a bird:

3. Viewing the observation details:

4. Viewing an image that is part of an observation:


5. Information about each ring that a bird is fitted with:


6. Life histories can be stored in different formats:

7. Keeping track of contact details for observers, ringers or projects:


8. Tracking birds other than gulls is also possible, for example Oystercathers:


9. Rings of projects for which there is no visual representation available are shown in a list:


10. Data entered using the BirdRing app can be used for adding birds and observations to the database:

11. Keeping track of bird relations, such as partners and offspring.


Use the links below to keep track of the progress and see more screenshots and videos.

Updates are frequently posted on Facebook. Announcements are also made on Twitter.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.13.0
6 April 2021 – Bird relations now track the age of a bird at the time of the relation, not its current age. ‘First of season’ is now also shown in ‘View all observations’ and Search Extra > Observations. Green can now be used as an inscription colour for Markers.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.12.0
16 September 2020 – Store weather and tidal information for an observation. Vertical layout for Search Extra forms. Open Search Extra Observations form for a date directly from an observation.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.11.1
29 August 2020 – Fix for version 2.11.0: importing bird relations.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.11.0
22 August 2020 – Text summary of Markers and positions in Excel export of observations and in e-mail text. Generating the text for an e-mail is now supported for birds fitted with all types of Markers. Preference for disabling the check if bird age has been set in an observation. The age for a bird can now be set up to 100 years.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.10.0
19 July 2020 – Exporting to Excel now generates user-friendly column names. Fields for keeping track of the number of eggs and young have been added to more locations.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.9.1
13 June 2020 – Fixes for version 2.9.0. Saving an observation takes too long when only minor changes are made. BirdRing import: ‘last observed date’ not calculated correctly. BirdRing: unable to delete observations.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.9.0
6 June 2020 – BirdRing import improvements. Keeping track of the number of eggs or young for a bird. When manually adding a bird, automatically create an observation of type ‘Capture – ringing’ or ‘Capture – control’ based on the Marker Event.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.8.0
24 April 2020 – Support for adding videos to an observation. View recently viewed birds. Searching within the text version of a life history. Improved performance when accessing Bird Overview or Observation Details. Using Google Maps to obtain location information.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.7.0
27 March 2020 – Dedicated form for manually adding a bird fitted with (optionally) 1 metal ring and up to 5 other rings (coded or uncoded flags, or uncoded rings). Bird relations can be duplicated. Standard form made more user friendly. Improved process of saving an observation. Replaced symbols for displaying the sex of a bird (male or female) and for showing that a bird is alive or dead by letters.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.6.0
23 February 2020 – See which observations exist in the database that were made on today’s day or during the current month in previous years. Change reporting options in batch on the Search Extra Observations screen. Improved display of Bird Reference types. Excel export from Search Extra Observations now includes primary moult data. Windows are now only maximized when Manage MBDB > Preferences > System > Keep Windows Maximized is enabled.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.5.2
6 January 2020 – Fix for automatically updating the Current Age of all birds.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.5.0
7 October 2019 – Bird relations. Visual Display for ELSA rings. More easily keep track of all observations that still have to be submitted and all life histories that still have to be received. Bird origin shown in overviews of observations.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.4.0
9 September 2019 – Improved display of life histories. More easily setting Current Marker Code colours and Visual Displays. Adding a link to an observation. Observation type ‘Electronic device’ added. Automatic reminder to update bird calendar year.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.3.0
28 March 2019 – Support for custom data. Setting the brightness for the highlight color of the first observation of a calendar year. Search Extra options now stay in view.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.2.0
14 March 2019 – Exporting all images for a bird or observation in one action. Easily see which image is set as the standard image. Easily see the first observation of a calendar year in the list of observations in the Bird Overview screen. BirdRing import: process observations by choosing the date that is in the CSV file. BirdRing import: easily see which locations have been updated when replacing locations in batch. General: automatically fit the layout on smaller screens.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.1.0
28 January 2019 – BirdRing import now supports all projects. BirdRing import now allows to choose processing observations by date. Visual Display added for showing uncoded rings and flags. Many small (efficiency) improvements.

Marked Birds Database – Version 2.0.0
20 September 2018 – Created in FileMaker 16. Support for latest versions of MacOS. Introduction of ‘cards’. Showing images in a grid. Easily storing an added location to the system. Adding a folder of images to an observation in one action. Quick View. Submitting an observation by e-mail. Many small (efficiency) improvements.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.16.1
16 March 2018 – Small change: bird sex can now be changed on Marker Events page. Minor changes and fixes relating to BirdRing import.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.16.0
22 January 2018 – Observations: showing the time that has passed since the last observation, showing the day of the week, updating the list of observers, new observation type: ‘Camera trap’, showing co-observers in Bird Overview. Life histories: adding an image, showing only the text version. Birds: adding references.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.15.0
27 December 2017 – Changes to how the current bird age for deceased birds is handled. Fix for BirdRing import where birds fitted with a metal ring only were not correctly imported.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.14.0
9 December 2017 – Using the BirdRing app to add Oystercatchers fitted with color rings of 3 Dutch projects. One general bug fix.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.13.0
21 November 2017 – Deleting an observation from within the Bird Overview layout, BirdRing import allows adding an uncoded coloured marker, various small changes to the BirdRing import.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.12.0
29 October 2017 – Automatically creating birds when importing from BirdRing app (phase 1), overview of Euring bird ages.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.11.0
29 August 2017 – Tracking the current partner of a bird, flagging an observation, various improvements and bug fixes.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.10.0
30 March 2017 – Checking if a bird already exists when adding a new bird, support for Oystercatchers fitted with Dutch CHIRP rings, minor efficiency improvements, bug fixes.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.9.1
15 February 2017 – Includes a fix for the import of CSV files in the BirdRing feature

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.9.0
30 January 2017 – Support for importing observations from BirdRing, efficiency improvements, bug fixes.

Marked Birds Database – Version 1.8.1
29 December 2016 – Minor improvements and bug fixes.

Marked Birds Database – Public release
2 December 2016 – Public release

Marked Birds Database update – automation, basic features, new ringing projects and design tweaks
24 January 2016 – Current bird age, Current Marker Codes, countries, province/states, Oystercatcher projects

Marked Birds Database update – an easier way of adding a bird and Markers
6 November 2015 – adding a bird with Markers through a ‘point-and-click’ method

Marked Birds Database update – March 2015
21 March 2015 – Adding Markers by using a visual display

Marked Birds Database update – a new approach
4 November 2014 – redesign and plans to support wader projects

Marked Birds Database update: iPhone version
10 Jun 2014 – Viewing the database on my iPhone

Marked Birds Database update: 4 marker support and templates
23 January 2014 – 4 Marker support, templates, search by Marker project, setting the Submitted/Received state

Marked Birds Database: first use
21 December 2013 – All basic functionality implemented, started to use it for the first time

Marker database: first design and basic functionality
11 November 2013 – Showing the first design and some basic functions

New database: importing data and building foundation
28 August 2013 – Showing the first basic functionality

New database proof of concept: keeping track of markers
29 July 2013 – Explaining the concept behind the database

New database project: working towards a new version
18 July 2013 – Announcing the plans for the new database

10 thoughts on “Database

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your interest in my database.
      My plan is indeed to make it available to the birding community at some stage. I’m currently making progress in adding all the basic functionality that I think it should contain before a first release is possible. Depending on how much time I can spend on it the coming months I’m hoping be able to release it some time in 2016.
      Just to note that the database is primarily aimed for use by observers to keep track of birds from multiple ringing projects, although it can also be used by ringers to keep track of submitted observations of their birds obviously.



  1. Dear Maarten
    I am grateful for making this work available to you, very useful for those who love birds and their migratory accompaniment.
    I recently started using your “MbDB” database and I am very excited about the ease of insertion of the observation logs.
    As I have thousands of records to do, I’m still using my old form of work, ie the old table “excel”.
    I also need to better exploit the information I can get after the registrations.
    Anyway, I wanted to thank you and wish you a lot of success in your professional life.
    Best regards and I wish you a New Year full of health and happiness.
    José Marques

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