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Saving the youngest owls: a pivotal food aid

A nest with four birds was found by the Conservation Biology Team (UB-IRBio), led by the tenure lecturer Joan Real.

A nest with four birds was found by the Conservation Biology Team (UB-IRBio), led by the tenure lecturer Joan Real.

12/06/2019

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Helping young owls to survive –the last born birds of a brood- can be an effective action to improve the protection of species in their natural habitat. This strategy is used by the Conservation Biology Team of the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the UB (IRBio) to improve these owl babies’ survival.

 

The eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species indicating the environmental quality of the natural environment.  Electrocution and rodenticides –apart from accidents, hunting and collision with electrical grids- are the big threats for the conservation of these birds. Like other birds of prey, when these lay many eggs, with days in between, the youngest bird can die of hunger since the oldest ones do not share the food.

A nest with four birds –an exceptional fact in this species- was found by the Conservation Biology Team (UB-IRBio), led by Joan Real, tenure lecturer at the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences and IRBio, during the scientific monitoring of an owl population in Vallès Oriental and Baix Llobregat. According to the experts, the youngest bird –light weighted and not grown enough- was born a week after the others and had little chances of surviving.

As part of the control and bird ringing –an essential protocol to know about the state of the population-, the research team brought supplemental food for the family group in the nest. This intervention by the experts –with food provided by the support of the Fauna Center in Torreferrussa, from the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Catalan Government –has been pivotal so that the youngest bird and the others have more chances to survive. The case of the youngest bird shows, once more, that collaboration among researchers, the administration and naturalists is an essential tool in the conservation of our surrounding biodiversity.


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