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Have you seen a Cornish chough?
The Cornish Chough is recognised by its striking red feed and elegantly curved bill.
The Cornish Chough is recognised by its red feed and elegantly curved bill

Have you seen a Cornish chough recently?

If so, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wants to hear from you.

But they're not interested in just any old chough. The choughs they are monitoring have rings on their legs. These are coloured and in a particular sequence.

They are trying to work out where certain individual birds are feeding and how far they travel.

The birds that the RSPB would like monitoring have three coloured rings and a BTO ring, which is a unique numbered ring.

It's really important that we know where they are and really, how they are faring through winter
Claire Mucklow, RSPB Project Manager

The choughs have two coloured rings on one leg and one coloured and one metal on the other.

Each bird has been given an individual combination.

The RSPB are aware that the sightings the public make will be fleeting and difficult to observe, so they are asking them to send in information on whatever they see.

Claire Mucklow, project manager for the RSPB in Cornwall says, "Even just being able to tell us that they saw one of the birds with a yellow ring on one leg is really valuable."

Last year was an amazing breeding season for the choughs with six pairs trying to breed, three being successful and consequently raising nine chicks.

Sadly seven of the nine didn't survive.

In Cornwall, the chough has always been an important symbol
In Cornwall, the chough has always been an important symbol

Claire explains, "It was one of those years where there was great success, but the youngsters didn't have much luck."

"The choughs are crows, which are very long lived birds.

"If you think they are going to raise two, three, four or even five chicks a year for up to 15 years, the mortality rate tends to be quite high or you would have choughs and crows everywhere.

"It's just a minor setback and we still have a really good population of about 18 or 19 birds in Cornwall at the moment.

"We recently had the spell of really bad weather but luckily around the coastal fringes it wasn't as bad as Devon but it does mean that the birds are more spread out and that they are not necessarily on their territory, so they tend to range further during this time of the year.

"It's really important that we know where they are and really, how they are faring through the winter."

If you make a coloured ring chough sighting, please contact Tony Whitehead or Claire Mucklow on 01392 432691.

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