Colour ring program of hooded crow (Corvus cornix) in Debrecen, Hungary

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University of Debrecen Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences and Environmental Department of Nature Conservation Zoology and Game Management Debrecen, Hungary, koverl@agr. unideb. hu
The appearance of the Hooded Crow has been observed in many European countries since 1960. Many studies tell about the crow'-s settlement and continuous population increase- for example: in Hungary (Tapfer 1974, 1978, 1985, Juhasz 1983, Fintha 1994, Ujhelyi 2005, Juhasz et al., 2009- Kover et al, 2010), in Finland (Hugg 1994, Vuorisalo et al. 2003), in Norway (Munkejord et al. 1985, Parker 1985), in Poland (Mazgajski et al. 2008) and in Russia (Konstantinov et al. 1982, Korbut, 1996). There are several factors driving this species'- urbanization. Primarily there are the possibilities provided in urban settings for nesting and diverse sources of food. The appearance of the Hooded Crow in Debrecen was noted in 1959 as a nesting species. At present there is a permanent, common breeding species, observable in all parts of city.
Our knowledge about the nature of urban race, including motion patterns, area fidelity is sufficiently incomplete. The aim of our research is to prove the area fidelity of urban Hooded Crow population by using a colour ring program. In this study we present the methodology of the program, and we also report our previous achievements.
Materials and method
First steps
In Hungary no one has ever done colour ringing with Hooded Crow before. First we made connection with the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (MME) as the coordinator of the Hungarian ringing projects. Our research project with the ringing protocol was sent to them. Important task was to comply with the EURING Colour ringing workgroup. Thanks to it we appeared as the 5th European program on the site (http: //www. cr-birding. be/cr-
HoodedCrow. htm) of the organization.
Catching of crows
The easiest way to band a Hooded Crow is at the age of nestling. Because it the simplest if we catch them at the nest before they fly away. However for this we have to know the
location of active/occupied nests that we surveyed every spring in our research area (9×4 km2). In this process volunteers helped us. We could reach the nests with a crane with basket. Because in lot of cases the nests were built in private area (e.g.: kindergarten, school, hospital, building site, garden house) we had to get permission for the passing.
We could catch the adult crow by traps. In case of trapping we have to pay attention to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern, 1979) and other Hungarian laws and decree: 1996/LV hunting law, 79/2004 hunting decree, 1996/LIII nature conservation law, 13/2001 KoM decree, XXVI11/1998 animal welfare law. We used Larsen box-trap and bowtrap.
The process of colour ringing
We banded the crows individually with a different combination of colour rings. The essence is that the birds can be identifiable at the occasion of later observations. Nine colours (yellow, orange, red, green, white, purple, light blue, dark blue, pink) were used, the combinations of those colures afforded plentiful possibilities. During the ringing the protocol must be kept strictly to avoid the same colour combination on two different crows. The plastic rings are good quality (Belgian, EZ ring), UV-proof, so they resist to environmental effects. Traditional (ornithological) aluminium ring is put on the left tarsus of adult birds and nestlings (pullus). Ringing needs official person with state ringing exam. Of course, after the marking nestlings were put back to the nests, and the adults birds could freely fly away.
Marked birds were followed during whole years by observation with binoculars according to the method given in advance. Beside it we have got help from several volunteers of the Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society (MME). In this way we got lots of feedbacks. We established a database for these to the further statistical data analysis. We built up connection with the bordering Game Management Units and the Hortobagy National Park because we could get feedbacks from them.
Previously results
Between 2007 and 2011 from 27 nests we banded 87 nestlings with colour ring uniquely. Beside it we have caught 3 adult crows with Larsen boxtrap. The meagre number of the trapped crow can be explained by the high level of intelligence of Hooded Crow. For a successful trapping we should have had a lot of experience. From 90 ringed individuals we have information about 34 which means 184 data records. We haven'-t got back feedbacks from the bordering Game Management Units and from the National Park so we suppose the young birds do not leave the city. Consequently they increase the crow population year by year. The young birds stay near their birth place for a long time after flying away.
Hereby we would like to say thanks to our volunteers who helped our work in the active nest survey and in the feedback collecting: Albert Andras, Antal Borbala, Balla Daniel, Balla Zoltan, Batta Gergo, Bihari Zoltan, Bacs Levenete, Csak Tamas, Csizmazia Zoltan, Dudas Denes, Dudas Miklos, Far-kas Szabolcs, Futo Robert, Gorliczay Edit, Gyure Peter, Gyori Judit, Hunya Peter, Juhasz Peter, Kardos Tamas, Kiraly Anna, Kiss Gabor, Koczka Andras, Konyhas Istvan, Kovacs Adrienn, Kovacs Agnes, Kovacs Istvanne, Kozak Lajos, Krucso Tamas, Lenner Adam, Lovas Tunde, Loki Viktor, Mathe Orsol-ya, Mester Attila, Mester Bela, Molnar Marton, Nagy Gabor, Nemeth Laszlo, Papp Gabor, Patalenszki Norbert, Poor Adam, Porkolab Magdolna, Racz Attila, Sihelnik Jozsef, Radocz Edina, Sos Judit, Suta Gergo, Szendrei Laszlo, Szilagyi Zsanett, Sztricsko Tamas, Szuhanics Mihaly, Takacs Miklos, Toth
Brigitta, Toth Norbert, Uj Boglarka, Varga Csaba, Varga Samuel, Veres Zsuzsanna, Veszelinov Otto, Vizi Nora.
The publication is supported by the TAMOP-4.2. 2/B-10/1−2010−0024 project. The project is co-financed by the European Union and the European Social Fund.
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