BirdLife research yields more information about Mediterranean's 'most enigmatic bird'

A BirdLife Malta ringing exercise initiated in the late 60s, continues to generate more information about the Mediterranean Storm-Petrel’s migration habits, after a specimen ringed in 2008 was recorded on a Greek islet

A ringing exercise by BirdLife Malta had been initiated in the 60s
A ringing exercise by BirdLife Malta had been initiated in the 60s

A bird ringing exercise by BirdLife Malta which started back in the late 1960s, has continued to yield valuable information about the Mediterranean Storm-Petrel, after a specimen ringed in 2008 was recovered in a colony in Greece. 

The tiny islet of Filfla in the Maltese Archipelago, is home to the largest colony of the species in the Mediterranean, with around 8,000 breeding pairs nesting on the island.

The Storm-Petrel is not much bigger than a sparrow, and is the smallest seabird breeding in the Mediterranean. 

“BirdLife Malta has been studying the population on Filfla since the late 1960s, by ringing the birds with uniquely numbered rings. Recoveries of ringed birds have shown the movements between Filfla and a colony at Marettimo islet in Sicily,” a statement by the NGO read. 

The study’s aim is to understand better what researchers consider the most enigmatic bird of the Mediterranean.

Birds have been being ringed since the 1960s, with a recent study using geolocation tags in order to understand better the migration routes of the sea-faring species. 

A discovery of a Storm-Petrel in Greece yielded the discovery of a bird that was over 11 years-old. 

“This is a great discovery for the most enigmatic bird of the Aegean Sea since the connection between the Storm-Petrel populations in the Aegean and in the Central Mediterranean Basin has become evident for the very first time,” BirdLife said. 

The NGO said that the discovery came a few days after ringers on a research visit to Filfla captured in 1991, making the bird at least 29 years old.

The record is still held by a Storm-Petrel caught in 2013 that had been ringed in 1981, making it over 32-years-old. 

“BirdLife Malta and its BirdLife partners will continue to strive for the conservation of seabirds in the Mediterranean to ensure that species like the Mediterranean Storm-petrel continue being able to live so long,” the NGO said.

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