Foster eggs or chicks of petrels and shearwaters with wild non-conspecifics (cross-fostering)
Overall effectiveness category Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
If the wild populations of a species are very small then it may not be possible to foster offspring to conspecifics. However, it may be possible to foster chicks and eggs to a similar, but more abundant species, if one is present. This can increase the reproductive output of the wild population of the endangered species, or even allow for the reintroduction of a population into parts of its former range.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated partially controlled study at two sites on Kaua’i, Hawaii, USA, in 1978-80 (Byrd et al. 1984) found that Newell’s shearwater Puffinus newelli (formerly P. puffinus newelli) eggs transferred to wedge-tailed shearwater P. pacificus had high hatching and fledging rates, with an average of 74% of 90 fostered eggs producing a fledgling. This is similar to the highest recorded rates for Manx shearwaters P. puffinus and slightly higher than those of wedge-tailed shearwaters. The main cause of mortality was egg predation by introduced common mynas Acridotheres tristis, with only one chick being evicted by foster parents. Fostered chicks were slightly heavier and larger than Newell’s shearwaters raised by their natural parents. Data was not available on the return rates or breeding success of fostered chicks.Study and other actions tested