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The bird-ringing field station at "passo del Brocon"

The Brocon pass, located between the villages of Cinte Tesino and Castello Tesino, is one the most important passes in Trentino in terms of bird migrations. It is part of the mountain range of “Cima d’Asta”, it is oriented Northwest to Southeast, and links Monte Coppolo 2058 m (BL) with Col del Boia 2066 m (TN).

Since 1997 it is one of the field stations for scientific bird-ringing of the Museo delle Scienze (Museum of Sciences). The research activity is part of the “Alpi” project, a multi-annual research programme coordinated by Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale  (ex INFS) and Museum of Sciences, and aimed at studying migrations through the Alps.

In 2003, the administration of Cinte Tesino has allowed Museum of Sciences to use the small hut that the Museum has rehabilitated and equipped for bird-ringing.

Results have highlighted the high ornithological richness that characterizes the Brocon pass especially during the autumn migration. This migration appears to be made of several secondary migrating ways ascending towards the pass through the small valleys of the Vanoi watershed. Transient migratory birds come from the East following several routes, the main one following the Cereda pass and Gobbera pass.

In the past these sites were under the control of hunters who were practicing an ancient tradition of bird hunting for food (known as “uccellagione”). At Brocon pass there were at least five artificially-made structures for trapping birds (“roccoli”), that remained active until the 1950s. Today birds are only captured for research. They are measured and equipped with a ring for identification, before being released.

Among the intra-paleartic migrants (those birds that spend the winter in the Mediterranean basin), the species that results the most ringed is the Robin, while among the trans-Saharan migrants (those birds that spend the winter in Africa South of the Sahara) the most common species is the Pied Flycatcher.

The high presence of species of open habitats (Tree Pipit, Whinchat and Wheatear, as examples of long-distance migrants; Meadow Pipit and Water Pipit, as short-distance migrants) makes of this station an extremely interesting one for the study of migration and resting of these birds that are rarely ringed elsewhere.

Of special interest are the numerous captures of nocturnal raptors (Tengmalm’s Owl, Long-eared Owl, Pygmy Owl and Scops Owl) as well as of diurnal raptors (Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Goshawk and Merlin).