Action: Use ‘flying training’ before release
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A replicated study from the Dominican Republic found that captive-reared Hispaniolan parrots Amazona ventralis had higher initial survival if they were given pre-release predator training, although this difference was not present a year after release.
Birds in captivity will rarely fly as far or as often as those in the wild, potentially leading to weaker flight muscles.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated study in the Dominican Republic in 1997-8 (Collazo et al. 2003) found that 25 captive-reared Hispaniolan parrots Amazona ventralis released in 1998 in a subtropical forest site after intensive pre-release flying ‘training’ had flight muscles in significantly better condition than 24 birds released in 1997 after less intensive training. Intensive training consisted of exercise (making birds fly around their aviary) three or four times a week, as opposed to twice a week, and every day in the final week before release. Survival over the first five weeks was much higher in 1998 than 1997 (no deaths in 1998 vs. five deaths in 1997), but overall first-year survival estimates were similar in both years (29% survival in 1998 vs. 30-35% in 1997). This study is discussed in more detail in ‘Release captive-bred individuals into the wild to restore or augment wild populations’.