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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Wash contaminated semen and use it for artificial insemination Bird Conservation

Key messages

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A single replicated controlled study in Spain found that semen contaminated with urine could be successfully washed to increase its pH and produced three raptor nestlings.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A replicated controlled study from February-April in a captive breeding programme in Spain (Blanco et al. 2002) found that urine-contaminated sperm can be used to artificially inseminate raptor females after washing the sperm with an alkalinised diluent. Urine contamination of ejaculate samples was high in all 4 species (25 individuals) analysed (37% for golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, 43% for Spanish imperial eagle Aquila adalberti, 29% for Bonelli’s eagle A. fasciatus (also Hieraaetus fasciatus) and 48% for peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus) and significantly reduced semen pH (6.5-6.9 compared to 7.2-7.6). However, sperm motility was significantly higher in sperm washed with an alkalinised diluent (compared to a neutral diluent). An intramagnal insemination technique of washed semen produced 1 golden eagle and 2 peregrine falcon nestlings (11 and 16% of clutch size respectively). Each sperm sample was divided into two equal amounts and washed with either neutral (pH 7.0) or alkalinised (pH 8.0) diluent (Lake’s formula with 300 mg / 100 ml of citric acid added) before being incubated for 30 min (21°C).


Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Bird Conservation. Pages 141-290 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.