LAB gathering was a great success

27 Mar
Delegates at the recent Learn About Birds convention held in the Drakensberg in South Africa. Photo Albert Froneman

Delegates at the recent Learn About Birds conference held in the Drakensberg in South Africa. Photo Albert Froneman

This was the second LAB ( Learn About Birds ) conference co-hosted by BirdLife South Africa and the FitzPatrick Institute of African ornithology. The 3 day conference, which will be held every 2 years, was a fantastic success. No less than 150 delegates attended the conference. Topics were wide and varied. The impact of wind turbines on birds, Conserving threatened bird species, Birds and climate change, The basics of bird photography, Ringing as a valuable tool to learn more about the biology of birds, Tracking birds with remote sensors in the 21st century etc. were all part and parcel of the more than 45 high quality presentations. Many of the presentations were given by Phd students from the various academic institutions in South Africa. Using two conference rooms delegates could literally pick and choose what they wished to attend. Early morning bird walks with highly experienced bird guides was also on the agenda

Albert Froneman, one of South Africa's foremost bird photographers, sharing his talents with interested delegates

Albert Froneman, one of South Africa’s foremost bird photographers, shared his talents with interested delegates.

For Eelco Meyjes , from the Rare Finch Conservation Group, it was an excellent opportunity to catch up with some of the latest developments in the world of birds and bird conservation work. For finch enthusiasts presentations were given on the African Quail-Finch, the sociable weavers in Namibia and the Cape Siskins in the Western Cape. The key thing is, as bird enthusiasts, we can all learn from one another. As an example the sophisticated, and very accurate tracking devices, that are currently being used on some of the larger bird species nowadays will, within the next 5 years, be available for many of the smaller birds. According to BirdLife International the devices may not weigh more than 3 to 5 per cent of the birds weight. And partly because of costs, as well as the need to check if the bird as well as the device can function properly when fitted, many of the initial tests on a particular species are often first done in a controlled and captive environment.

For more information on BirdLife South Africa visit and for more information on the Percy FitzPatrick institute visit

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is dependant on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild. For more info visit or write to the secretary at



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