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Colour schemes

 The colour-ringing of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits is organised into different schemes, based on where the birds were originally ringed. Combinations can include rings on the tibia (above the ‘knee’ joint) and the tarsus (below the ‘knee’ joint), and each scheme has one ring of a particular colour in a constant position.

Most rings are 15mm in height but smaller rings (7-9 mm) are sometimes used, especially for small chicks. The following colours are used:
White (W), Yellow (Y), Orange (O), Red (R), dark Green (G), Lime green (L), black (N, for Niger) and dark Blue (B).
The white rings can also be engraved with a black X or with stripes, and flags (rings with a small piece of plastic ‘sticking out ’) are also used.

The majority of schemes use two colour-rings on each tibia. Each combination is read as left leg: top to bottom, right leg: top to bottom. It is therefore very important is to be clear on what is the right and left leg of the bird. This position is always given in accordance with the bird, ie a godwit with its back to the observer will have the left leg on the left side.

This Icelandic Godwit for example, reads YG-LL

Variations to the main scheme

1 – Icelandic Godwits with a colour ring on tarsus - three on tibias and one on tarsus

Example of 1a) G//R-GY, left; 1b) OR-R//W, middle; and 1c) G-LW//W, right

2 – Icelandic Godwits with 3 colour-rings - one on each tibia and one on left tarsus

(waiting for picture! sorry!)

3 – Icelandic Godwits with engraved rings on left tarsus.

(waiting for picture! sorry!)

4 – Icelandic Godwits with engraved lines ring - two on left tibia and one large engraved ring with two horizontal lines on the right tibia (this last ring might be mistaken by two white rings, so have another look in case of doubt).

RL-Double stripe, colour-ringed in Ireland

5 – Icelandic Godwits with flag rings - two rings on left tibia and a flag ring below normal ring on right tibia (the "flag" is a normal colour-ring but with a horizontal extension)

LR-YGflag, colour-ringed at Tagus estuary, Portugal

6 – Icelandic Godwits with 6 rings - three rings on each (this rings are shorter than the one used on all the above combinations

GYG-ORG, colour-ringed in SW England

 Metal rings are not part of Jadrakan scheme

  Besides the colour-rings, all Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits are fitted with a metal ring on one of the tarsus but this is not part of the colour scheme. This metal ring is engraved with the code given by the National Ringing Scheme of the country where individuals were caught and processed.

To know more about other Limosa limosa schemes and of other birds in general, fly to:

  Other schemes used for Black-tailed Godwits

  Of the 3 main schemes used on the limosa subspecies there is one that might cause some confusion. This scheme also uses two rings on each tibia, but has one important difference, as these nominate Godwits also have a dark Blue ring on right tarsus. The problem arises when lower tarsus (close to the foot) is not visible because the bird is in water or tall vegetation. If this happens and only tibia rings are seen, the combination might be the same for two distinct individuals, but we can still occasionally identify the individual. Checking for the presence or absence of tarsus rings whenever possible is therefore very helpful in aiding identification of the right scheme.

Other schemes used on limosa race:
left, from Spain - 3 colour-rings and one Lime Flag: (metal) LR-LflagY;
right, from the Netherlands - 4 colour-rings and one Flag: LfBR-YB

Project Jaðrakan is very happy to receive all the colour-ring sightings for all Black-tailed Godwits schemes! Please use the form to report a record of a colour-ringed individual and we´ll forward it to the respective scheme administrator.

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