The Register

Below you will find a link to download a Google spreadsheet containing the latest version of the Colour Mark Register for Europe and the East Atlantic flyway. This is an extract of a larger database and meant for the following purposes:

  • for observers to match their sightings
  • for ringers to check the details of their existing schemes
  • for Ringing Offices to check which schemes are in operation in their region

For Black-tailed Godwits, Sanderlings and Red Knot, it is a good idea to look at the information for observers page before delving into the register.

Owing to the complexities around many of the older schemes, it is not possible to use this file to design a new marking scheme. If you wish to colour mark a species please contact us by email at

Browse the register

Note that this file will be updated regularly as new schemes are added and older ones archived, extended or modified. Please check regularly to ensure you are looking at the latest version. Use the in-built filters to find species, schemes, ringers or countries. If you find any mistakes please contact us

Click the image (right) to open the Google Sheet of the latest version of the Colour Marks Register.

Thumbnail of the register Google sheet

Explanations of columns and codes and instructions for use can be found on separate sheets, but also see below.

How to use the register

How to add Filters to the Register

How to add Filters to the Register

When you open the Google spread sheet you will see 3 tabs in the bottom left hand corner. The left tab shows the date the database was last updated, the middle tab explains the coloums in the spread sheet and the symbols which are used and the right hand tab explains how you can search the spread sheet (see also here).

Once you have opened the Google Sheet you can simply scroll up and down to browse it. For easier searching you can add “Filters” to show only certain values in one or more columns. To enable Filters, first click on the “Data” menu, then “Filter views” and then “Create new temporary filter views”.  Small down arrows will appear in row 1.

The spread sheet can now be filtered. For example if you are a ringer and want to find all your schemes click on the Filter for surname, click on Clear to untick all names, then scroll down until you find your name and click on that. A list of all your schemes will be shown. For a ringing office who wish to find all schemes on the Register for their country click on the Filter for country and follow the same procedure.

If you have seen a colour-marked wader, you can use multiple filters to search for the scheme the bird may originate from. For example first filter for the species as described above. Then go to the colour coding and begin filtering. For example if you have seen a encoded ring on the left tibia, then first filter to find all the “er” codes in the flag/ring column, then filter on the left tibia position 1 column which will then show all the schemes with an engraved ring on the bottom part of the left tibia for that species. You should then be able to pick out the scheme you have seen. With practice at using the various filtering possibilities you should be able to find any colour-ringed bird in a few seconds – that is as long as your reading is complete, that rings have not been lost, and that the scheme is registered with us (which all schemes should be!).


Privacy statement Colour-mark Register

To facilitate contact between observers and scheme owners, we ask permission from ringing scheme owners to publish their email address in the online Register. Asking for consent to publish contact information is a standard procedure when ringers apply with IWSG for approval of their scheme. The email field is left blank when no permission is given. If you want your email address removed please contact the Colour-mark Coordinator at