How the programme started
2014 Hand-Rearing At-Risk Yellow Head Chicks
It was estimated that the birds were around 2-3 weeks old. One of the chicks had poop-caked toes and two others had quite severe stress-bars in their feathers.
Back at BBR the chicks were given thorough health checks, weighed and measured, and the long process of feeding and monitoring began.
In this 2014 test-run the rangers from TIDE identified four chicks that, in their experience, would not survive to fledge; one was in an extremely rotten tree that was at the edge of the monitoring range thus at serious risk from poachers, one in an open tree that was being eyed by predatory birds, and two were removed from the recently installed artificial nest box and were the last of three to hatch, they would eventually get squeezed out or trampled by the larger two.
At the end of April 2014 BBR was on-site during the removals, poised to transport the birds back to the rehab facility four hours drive away.
It was another five weeks before they were fledged and could go into an outdoor aviary.
Though still not weaned, it would take four more months before all of the birds were feeding 100% by themselves.
Along the way our original four were joined by two more yellow-head chicks. These were liberated from the pet trade, thankfully long before they had picked up any bad habits.
Finally they were ready to be transferred for release back in Payne’s Creek National Park.
We re-traced our steps, this time finishing by boat as the roads into the Park were muddy beyond use after the long rainy season.
The pre-release enclosure was built earlier in the year by Jose and Orlando, who did it in a record two days, spurred on by the relentless night-time mosquito attacks.
We needed to add perches and feeding areas, then it was ready for our babies.
With an ordinary BBR release of ex-captive birds we would recommend two weeks minimum to acclimatize but after only ten days Mario called to say that they ‘were ready’ and were flinging themselves at the wire to chase after the adult birds.
The huge concentration of yellow-heads at the site, plus their youth and lack of imprinting, had certainly made them keen to get into the wild.
The release was unspectacular as always; these are cautious creatures, testing any new environment carefully with watchful, intelligent eyes.
The birds wear small metal leg-bands making them easy to identify. The reports back from TIDE have been positive. As of April 2015 all six birds were seen frequently around the release area and also with wild Yellow Heads meaning their integration was successful.
We hope to re-nest chicks removed from over-crowded nests, giving them an even better chance of being a truly wild parrot.
Our sincere gratitude and admiration for the Payne’s Creek TIDE rangers who work tirelessly to conserve and protect these amazing birds.