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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Artificially incubate and hand-rear storks and ibises in captivity Bird Conservation

Key messages

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A small study in the USA describes the successful artificial incubation and hand-rearing of two Abdim’s stork Ciconia abdimii chicks, whilst a review of northern bald ibis Geronticus eremita conservation found that only very intensive rearing of a small number of chicks appeared to allow strong bonds to form between chicks – thought to be important for the successful release of birds into the wild.


Supporting evidence from individual studies


A small study the Audubon Park Zoo, New Orleans, USA, in 1983 (Farnell & Shannon 1987) found that a pair of Abdim’s storks Ciconia abdimii successfully bred in captivity (see ‘Use captive breeding to increase or maintain populations’), producing two eggs which were artificially incubated and hand-reared. The two chicks successfully integrated with the captive population and displayed normal behaviours. The eggs were incubated in a forced-air incubator at 36.9°C, moved to a 34°C brooder after hatching, with the temperature gradually reduced to 26°C by the time chicks were four weeks old. Hand-rearing consisted of seven feeds a day until four weeks old, when they were fed three times a day and then once a day from seven weeks old. Food consisted of commercial bird-of-prey food, fish, insects and yoghurt.



A 2007 review of northern bald ibis (waldrapp) Geronticus eremita conservation (Bowden et al. 2007) found that intensive hand-rearing of ibis chicks by a small number of human foster-parents appeared to lead to the formation of strong bonds between chicks which appear important in successful releases of the species. This study is also discussed in ‘Use captive breeding to increase or maintain populations’, ‘Release captive-bred individuals into the wild to restore or augment wild populations’, ‘Use holding pens at release sites’, ‘Release birds as adults or sub-adults, not juveniles’, ‘Clip birds’ wings on release’, ‘Use microlites to help birds migrate’ and ‘Foster birds with non-conspecifics’.


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.