At this half-way stage of their quarantine period, we’re really pleased with how the birds are doing. They are feeding, drinking, bathing and loafing just as they should be.
When the birds arrived they were understandably a little unsettled. In the first few days whenever one of us went in to change their food, they’d become a little agitated and would run around with their heads up and alarm-calling. That’s actually quite natural behaviour for them because as humans, with our forward facing eyes, we obviously appear to them as potential predators! However, it was in contrast with Moscow Zoo, where they were settled and rather tame.
This is where the CCTV we’d set up really came into its own. As you can see from the video, we can look down on the birds remotely. We’d set CCTV cameras in each of the three rooms in the quarantine station before the birds arrived and we’ve been able to watch their behaviour, without our own distracting presence. The great news is that they settled beautifully within days of their arrival, going about their “normal business” as you can see.
In the CCTV footage you can see three shallow plastic “terracotta-coloured” feeding dishes. These are filled with water on which sprinkled food can float. The large dish is filled with running water from the tap via the yellow hose. Two other dishes are filled with dry food and the two smallest with soaked food.
The artificial Christmas tree branches break up the 2.4 by 1.8 metres space in which the birds live and give them somewhere to get away from each other. The floor is covered with river sand – an ideal substrate for the birds to walk on. The black tray contains a heat mat covered with more river sand.
The room is heated to twenty degrees centigrade by fan heaters and infra-red spot lamps. The temperature and humidity is recorded by a thermo-hygrometer which you can see propped against the wall.
While the birds are in quarantine, only the dedicated staff are able to see them. Not even the steering group for the project have had access. To give them a really clear view of the birds’ behaviour, I took the other short video you can see below from the birds’ eye-level.
In an upcoming blog, we’ll get the Conservation Breeding Unit’s Nicky Hiscock to describe how she goes about the day-to-day care of the birds.