By Nicky Hiscock, Conservation Breeding Assistant
The sandpipers have been in their new home now for just over a month and they’re making good use of the surroundings we’ve carefully designed for them.
The facility was built just in time for their arrival in 2011 and consists of two indoor enclosures where they can be kept during the cold months, an outdoor enclosure and all of the spaces we need to care for them, including a kitchen for food preparation, storage areas and an all important ‘biosecurity portal’ where we change our footwear and clothes before entering and leaving the rest of the facility.
Although the sandpipers breed in the Arctic, it is actually pretty warm for the few weeks that they are there. They don’t actually seem to tolerate cold weather particularly well so at the moment the birds are being kept in one of their two indoor enclosures and we’re carefully keeping the temperature at a balmy 25˚C.
Each indoor space has a large water pool, a salt water bath, sprigs of artificial Christmas tree to provide cover, a variety of food and water bowls, and lots of heat and UV lamps. The floor of the enclosure that the birds are currently in is covered with round 2mm-gravel (like a beach of very small, smooth pebbles) and in the second room, which we’re preparing for them at the moment, they’ll have river sand. We’re not yet sure which they’d prefer and which would be the better substrate for the condition of their feet (an important consideration for anyone keeping birds), so it’ll be interesting to see how they react to the river sand over the next few weeks.
All 13 birds are making good use of their indoor space, which is great to see as this suggests to us that they’re comfortable and each of the different areas (gravel, water, warmer bits, cooler bits, etc) provides something interesting or useful for them.