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Assessing the effectiveness of bird rehabilitation: temporarily captive-reared Little Owls (Athene noctua) experience a similar recruitment rate as wild birds

  • Olivier Hameau
  • Alexandre MillonEmail author
Short Communication

Abstract

A large number of young birds are caught each year shortly after having left the nest and subsequently brought to bird care centres. These birds are temporarily hand-raised before release. To date, the effectiveness of this action has remained largely unassessed. Here we monitored the fate of 119 rehabilitated Little Owls (Athene noctua) and found that the recruitment rate of the rehabilitated birds was similar to that of wild birds (11.8% of 119 rehabilitated birds vs. 10.7% of 382 wild fledglings). The timing of release, i.e. whether rehabilitated birds were released in the autumn or in the following spring, did not appear to affect recruitment probabilities, although birds released the following spring showed a tendency for reduced breeding success and dispersal compared to wild birds, suggesting that autumn releases may be more favourable.

Keywords

Owls Nocturnal raptor Bird care centre Population reinforcement Breeding success 

Zusammenfassung

Wie effektiv sind Rehabilitationsmaßnahmen bei Vögeln? Zeitweise in Gefangenschaft aufgezogene Steinkäuze (Athene noctua) zeigen eine ähnliche Rekrutierungsrate wie Wildvögel

In jedem Jahr wird eine große Zahl Jungvögel kurz nach Verlassen des Nests von Menschen aufgegriffen und in Pflegestationen gebracht. Diese Vögel werden vorübergehend von Hand aufgezogen, bevor sie wieder in die Freiheit entlassen werden. Allerdings ist die Wirksamkeit dieser Maßnahmen bisher weitestgehend unerforscht. Hier verfolgten wir das Schicksal von 119 in Pflege genommenen Steinkäuzen (Athene noctua) und beobachteten eine ähnliche Rekrutierungsrate wie bei Wildvögeln (11,8 % von 119 Pfleglingen verglichen mit 10,7 % von 382 flüggen Wildvögeln). Dabei scheint es die Rekrutierungswahrscheinlichkeit nicht zu beeinflussen, ob die Pfleglinge im Herbst oder im folgenden Frühling freigelassen wurden, obgleich letztere eine Tendenz zu verringertem Bruterfolg und Dismigration zeigten, was andeutet, dass eine Freilassung im Herbst günstiger ist.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO) team from the bird care centre of Buoux and the network of volunteers dedicated to bird rescue in Provence. The care center receives funding from Vaucluse and Bouches-du-Rhône councils, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and Direction Régionale de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement-PACA. Owl monitoring received initial support from a LEADER scheme in partnership with Luberon Nature Park and Fondation Nature & Découvertes. Ringing was achieved under a licence delivered by the Centre de Recherche sur la Biologie des Populations d’Oiseaux (CRBPO-Museum Paris). Finally, we thank M. Grüebler and an anynomous reviewer for their helpful and relevant comments.

Supplementary material

10336_2019_1633_MOESM1_ESM.docx (494 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 494 kb)

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (LPO PACA)HyèresFrance
  2. 2.Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie (IMBE)Technopôle Arbois-MéditerranéeAix-En-ProvenceFrance

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