Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Use puppets to increase the survival or growth of hand-reared chicks

How is the evidence assessed?

Study locations

Key messages

Three replicated studies from the USA and Saudi Arabia found that corvids and bustards raised using puppets did not have higher survival, dispersal or growth than conventionally hand-reared chicks.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated ex situ study in Idaho, USA (Whitmore & Marzluff 1998), found that the growth of raven Corvus corax chicks did not vary between 30 individuals fed with a puppet and 82 fed by keepers. Post-release survival and reproduction were not compared. This study is also discussed in ‘Artificially incubate and hand-rear birds in captivity’.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A randomised, replicated and controlled study in Idaho, USA, between 1993 and 1995 (Valutis & Marzluff 1999), found that 25 raven Corvus corax chicks (used as surrogates for Hawaiian crows C. hawaiiensis and Mariana crows C. kubaryi) hand-raised using puppets did not behave differently towards other ravens before or after release, or differ in dispersal from the release site, compared to 49 chicks raised without puppets. Puppet-rearing appeared to increase post-release survival, but the whereabouts of 49% of released birds were unknown, adding considerable uncertainty to this conclusion. Puppet-raised birds were more fearful of keepers following release, which could be beneficial for some species. Puppet-reared birds were separated from each other at 7-10 days old (before their eyes opened).

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated trial in Saudi Arabia in 1995 (van Heezik et al. 1999) found that hand-reared houbara bustards Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii raised with a puppet to minimise human contact were not significantly more likely to survive following release at a desert site, than control (reared with human contact) birds (42% of 12 puppet-reared birds alive the year after release vs. 27% of 12 controls). This study also is also discussed in ‘Use ‘anti-predator training’ to improve survival after release’.

    Study and other actions tested
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. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

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Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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