This season, BBR collaborated with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment to assist with hand-raising at-risk yellow head chicks from the TIDE-managed Payne's Creek National Park in Toledo.
Two of the birds identified were the third chicks hatched into overcrowded artificial nest boxes, one was from an unstable nest and one from a nest that has been perpetually poached. TIDE rangers removed these at-risk birds and handed them over to BBR for hand-rearing.
These four babies were joined by 2 more that were surrendered into BBR throughout the season.
All six birds were hand-fed formula by syringe, with solid food slowly introduced as they developed. The birds moved through the rehabilitation programme, from small indoor 'nest' enclosures, to larger cages, and finally to our flight enclosure for the last 3 months, where they learned flight, balance and coordination skills and built up their essential flight muscles.
Finally, at around 6 months old, the last baby had been weaned and the birds were ready to return to their home in Payne's Creek.
Earlier in the season, the amazing BBR cage-builders built a small pre-release enclosure in kit-form, and assembled it in the National Park. All it needed was some perches and feeding trays and it was ready for the birds.
Before their final release, the babies will stay in this enclosure for 2 weeks to acclimatise to the new location and environment. There are many wild yellow heads in the area: Payne’s Creek is home to the largest yellow head roost in the country, and there is every possibility that at least 4 of these birds will be reunited with their parents! Once they have been released, TIDE rangers will continue to provide supplemental food for a long as they need it, ensuring these babies get the best start possible in their wild life.
Huge thanks to everyone involved in this project, including all of the staff and volunteers that have contributed to the excellent care of the birds during their time at BBR.