A bird captured for tagging. Archive image | Sylvana Raschke


The Council of Majorca says the tagging of birds will be limited in Sa Dragonera Natural Park.

“Massive and indiscriminate banding is a nineteenth-century technique that involves a lot of effort with very little results. To capture migratory birds that have made very long journeys, networks must be installed and subsequently the specimens are placed in bags before being tagged,” said the Insular Director of Medi Ambient, Josep Manchado. “During this process there are casualties and if the ornithologist takes a long time to remove the birds from the nets, perhaps the predators have already finished with them. There are environmental movements that are against these techniques.”

Manchado points out that "currently, migratory bird controls can be much more effective through digital photography or the use of binoculars or telescopes. In Sa Dragonera we do allow selective and punctual banding of a few specimens, such as with the chicks of Balearic Shearwater or Peregrine Falcon, but it is restricted to a specific species to which a radio transmitter or a GPS can be applied, we do not allow massive banding,” he said. “There is no official ban, but we do not authorise projects or proposals in this regard. In addition, the networks also capture local non-migratory birds, which can run into the traps again and again.”

Josep Manchado insists that “mass banding was useful at one time because there was no other way to control migration, but now we have a lot more information and these techniques are no longer necessary and do not contribute any information about the species,” he said, adding, “administrations no longer fund these projects and I don't know if they will end up totally banned or just limited.”

Manolo Suárez, who’s responsible for ornithology in the GOB, says banding is necessary and contributes valid information about the birds.

“Sa Dragonera was included in an international project for the monitoring of migratory birds in small Mediterranean islands, but stopped participating a few years ago. Banding is a validated method of scientific study and we use it in s’Albufera and Mondragó,” he said. Data collection makes sense in the long-term and in sa Dragonera we have lost some years of information that could have been of great interest in relation to migration and climate change.”

Training, regulations and evaluation

Suárez said it’s in the interests of the GOB to keep tagging birds.

“We will continue banding the birds in Sa Dragonera to obtain data on the evolution of both sedentary birds and those that are passing through, because the more data you have, the better for the proper management of a natural area and its biodiversity,” he said. “The banders are subject to specific training, regulations and an evaluation body, and it is a much more respectful discipline than others.”