Tips for releasing rehabed birds

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ron20m
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Location: Oklahoma/Norman

Tips for releasing rehabed birds

Postby ron20m » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:56 pm

I spoke with a women in Hutchins, TX from Rogers wildlife who sounded like she knew what she was doing. I contacted her because someone left a post suggesting that she tried to teach them to eat on the fly and she said that was not true.

She said primarily not to release a bird unless it weighed at least 44gms.
She said to release them at a colony, not at a roost or staging site.
She said to release them one at a time.
She said when releasing them one at a time you will see birds come down and fly off with them and "show them the ropes" so to speak
She also said after releasing several you will see other adults come in to "see what is going on"
She also said she releases them in the morning, she said around 9 was OK but I think I will shoot for earlier.
Nobody else has really left any tips for me so I'm going with this unless someone speaks up.

Peggy Riley
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Location: TX/Tolar

Postby Peggy Riley » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:11 pm

These all seem like logical suggestions to me.

Hope all works out for you.

Peggy

Sparky
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Location: Texas/Katy

Postby Sparky » Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:24 pm

Seems good to me, however I have advised a release at a Roost if no martins have been back to a colony in over 2 weeks. The TWRC will be releasing some very soon here in the Houston area.
I'm a "nestcamaholic" Is 18 hours a day a bad thing? (I have 2 this year, luckily I have 2 eyes!)

The Olsons
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Location: North Padre Island, TX

Postby The Olsons » Thu Jul 16, 2009 6:50 pm

Ron,

It all sounds good what the lady told you, but like Sparky said you need to make sure that you still have martins come to your colony and also "invite" the first released fledgling to join them. If not, they should be released at a roost or they are not going to make it without any adult martin help.

Best wishes for all your little guys and you :grin:

Astrid
Love it or leave it~~~Astrid :-)

ron20m
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Location: Oklahoma/Norman

Postby ron20m » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:01 pm

definitely would NOT release birds if no adults around. I have about 15-20 total birds still hanging around and released 12 babies back this am. Kelly Tee said the adults would buzz the babies and escort them away. That was not my experience but about 8 were siting around the housing and when the first baby flew off my wife's finger they all immediately left their perches to escort him around.
As soon as we started releasing other birds started coming back to the colony as if to "help"
Hour and a half later they were all circling overhead, looking like pros
Very very exciting. We have lived in this house 15 years and my wife as never really been involved with the "whole martin thing"
now she loves them

Daniel Airola
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Postby Daniel Airola » Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:50 pm

In Sacramento, CA we have been rehabbing young that have fallen from bridge nest sites because we do not have access to place them back into nests (which should be the first option for "rehabbing"). For several years we took an approach of trying to get rehabbed nestlings out to the colonies during the period immediately after fledging when adults were still bringing young back to roost at nest sites for the evening (generally within 2 weeks of fledging). Our thinking was that martins needed socialization, and adults were more likely to accept and incorporate a fledgling-aged bird into their brood at this age, and therefore this approach would improve survival.

We tried this approach for 4 years and released 15 young, all of which were color-banded to facilitate determining survival and return to our 11-colony study area in subsequent years. Upon release, a few rehabbed birds were accepted into groups of martins (not necessarily family groups). In one instance we did observe a female feeding a rehabbed bird which could not have been her own. More commonly, the released birds were attacked by other martins and driven far from the colony. Overall, however, we observed NO rehabbed birds that returned in subsequent years to nesting colonies. In contrast 5 of 12 young we have been able to capture, band, and replace in bridge colony nests (it is hard to reach them!) have been observed in subsequent years.

From these data, we concluded that our rehab approach, based on an assumption that young need adult assistance, was a failure. So last year, we followed the advice of a different rehabber who is more experienced with swallows, and we allowed her to raise them to an older age at which they were "self-feeding" (i.e., caught insects in an outdoor aviary).

So last year, we released 3 of these longer-reared birds near our nest box site to try to encourage them to return there to nest in subsequent years. The box site is about 5 miles from the nearest bridge colony - no martins are using this site. This year we observed one of the delay-rehabbed birds at our colonies. So not only did 1 of 3 survive, but it found the existing colonies 5+ miles from its release site last year.

This experience has been enough to convince us, for now, that it is better to rear birds to independence (if you cannot replace them in nests) rather than attempt to release them at fledgling age. I suggest that the importance of forming social bonds in released rehabbed birds may be overrated.
Dan Airola - Sacramento CA

teridickinson
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Re: Tips for releasing rehabed birds

Postby teridickinson » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:12 pm

ron20m wrote:I spoke with a women in Hutchins, TX from Rogers wildlife who sounded like she knew what she was doing. I contacted her because someone left a post suggesting that she tried to teach them to eat on the fly and she said that was not true.
That's interesting because I know when I've talked to them they told me they were going to keep the ones they have in the aviary over the winter then release them.

So maybe they don't try to teach the ones who are released as soon as they can fly but the ones they keep longer do get to learn to hunt.

teridickinson
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Postby teridickinson » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:13 pm

Daniel Airola wrote:we allowed her to raise them to an older age at which they were "self-feeding" (i.e., caught insects in an outdoor aviary).

So last year, we released 3 of these longer-reared birds near our nest box site to try to encourage them to return there to nest in subsequent years. The box site is about 5 miles from the nearest bridge colony - no martins are using this site. This year we observed one of the delay-rehabbed birds at our colonies. So not only did 1 of 3 survive, but it found the existing colonies 5+ miles from its release site last year.

This experience has been enough to convince us, for now, that it is better to rear birds to independence (if you cannot replace them in nests) rather than attempt to release them at fledgling age. I suggest that the importance of forming social bonds in released rehabbed birds may be overrated.
How old were they when they were released?

ron20m
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Postby ron20m » Fri Jul 17, 2009 8:55 pm

I released 12 of 30 rehabbed babies, all over 44 gms this am. I'm having about 20 birds come back to the colony at night and one remaining nest of two 20do babies who made through the heat. We have had a break in the heat and it is 90's now.
I have not tried to identify how many of the 20 remaining are HY, SY or ASY.
I followed the advice of a lady from Rodgers wildlife in Texas, my wildlife rehabber had no suggestions and released them in the morning one at a time.
There were about 8 birds perched and when the first bird left my wife's finger they immediately left their perches and seemed to take the newbie "under their wing". By the time we released all 12, other birds had appeared and all seemed anxious to help the newbies. I saw no fighting.
In fact I fear the opposite. after having the two remaining nestlings being fed every 15 minutes or so I have not seen a parent enter their nest all day. Now it is nighttime and I've never seen a parent enter the nest. I'm worried they abandoned their babies to fly with the rehabbers all day.
The rahabbers have been circling all day and acting like normal freshly fledged babies. They've all come in for the night and seem quite happy.

I'd say my experience is that rehabbed babies were readily accepted back into the colony and appeared to be welcomed and socializing

ron20m
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Postby ron20m » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:24 am

Teri the lady I talked to said they try to get the martins to self feed by leaving food in cages and gave me the advice on releasing including the 44gms. She did not mention an aviary but I did not ask about that. I did ask if she not them to eat on the fly and she said no.
Maybe they try to release most but keep late season ones and hold them over. It is obvious this is not an exact science!

ron20m
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Postby ron20m » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:50 am

released babies seem very happy this am. Acting like normal new fledglings.
Flying from house to house, talking up a storm, all sitting perched then all taking off suddenly and soaring around.
I've seen no aggression from ASY males. Small lake about 1/3 mile away saw them circling over there so hope they are learning to drink as well.
At this point even if they eventually die It was worth it to see them flying around and singing so happily.

The Olsons
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Postby The Olsons » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:59 am

Ron,

I am so glad to hear your fledglings are so happy, energetic and skillful flyers already. 8) Thank you for the update...... :grin:

Astrid
Love it or leave it~~~Astrid :-)

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:42 pm

Ron,
We released 9 more rehabbers this morning. This evening several of them returned along with a few adults. I was hoping to witness one being fed, but did not. They seemed happy enough, and weren't chirping for food. They each went into a cavity for the night. I hope taking them from the nests was the right thing to do.

ron20m
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Location: Oklahoma/Norman

Postby ron20m » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:38 am

Kelly my newly released birds act just like regular fledglings, they hang around in the morning flying from house to house and singing a lot! Then about 1 or 2 in afternoon they are gone for about 6 hours straight before coming back in at night.
I have to believe that is prime feeding time and they are up feeding. I also think it is hard to believe they would fly around with other martins for 6 hours and just look at bugs without figuring out how to catch one. I have to believe in instincts kicking in at some point.
Mine sure are making a lot of happy noises since the first one was released so I think they are eating.

ron20m
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Location: Oklahoma/Norman

Postby ron20m » Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:42 pm

Saw some behavior that makes me worry. I have one nest of two 22 do babies left. One of my released rehab birds sat on the porch in front of their cavity and did the "feed me flap" to the parents. I couldn't tell if they fed him or not and he flew away in a hour or so.
Another new release sat on the porch above that on same house for about three hours during middle of day while rest of group was out feeding. I finally crawled up on a ladder to see exactly how weak he was and he flew off like he new what he was doing. But it did make me worry that he was not eating.

ron20m
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Postby ron20m » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:47 pm

today same two birds in same position at same time. One on bottom tier fell off perch and did not struggle to get away when I picked him up. Very weak. Probably hasn't eaten since release. Good news is he was one of the ones who accepts food readily. Ate immediately from my hand. This is good because my wife can feed him while I'm at work. Guess I'll try to feed him up and try again. Rehabber was feeding them mealworms. I might try to switch him to live crickets and try some tossing. I have a pool cabana that is screened in to act as aviary.
Sad but I guess I can't expect them all to survive

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Jul 20, 2009 8:48 pm

Ron,
I'm having a similiar experience. I sent you a private message.
Kelly

ron20m
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Postby ron20m » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:32 am

My rehab bird accepted food and drank from a saucer, but was dead early this am.
The tips at the top of this post where from a lady at Rodgers wildlife.
My final tip is:
Don't get your hopes up, some of them will certainly die.

Although some stayed out until 15 min before dark so I'd like to think they're eating, glass is half full.

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:37 pm

Ron,
I'm sorry your little guy died. I think the weak one we saw yesterday probably died too. I've been comforting myself thinking about the fact they had a chance to fly, even if only for a few days. What a thrill that first flight must be!
I've had a sick feeling today that more of the rehabbers would show up this afternoon in bad shape. I'am thankful none did.
I have video of a couple of our birds' frist flights. When I get time, I'm goning to try to post them.

ron20m
Posts: 424
Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2004 3:01 pm
Location: Oklahoma/Norman

Postby ron20m » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:59 pm

Kelly I thought the same thing. To be able to come home and fly would be a much better way of going out than lying dead on the ground in the heat. So I'm glad I gave them an opportunity to survive. AND SOME DO survive.


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