An update from Tanya Grigg
We thought you would like to hear how the 2019-hatched Spoonies are getting on as we celebrate their first birthday today!
On 20th March this year we moved the birds from their wintering aviary to their summer accommodation which is exactly the same as the adult birds’ breeding aviaries – it’s a large 10m x 5m area with half of the roof open to allow lots of natural light and weather in (but double netted to keep other birds out); it has two small fresh water ponds, one salt water tray, two tunnels 30cm high x 60cm long in which the birds can shelter from the sun, and which are turfed over so they have elevated vantage points overlooking their aviary and into their neighbours’. There are also a variety of low growing heathers and sedums and tussock grasses to bring shade and shelter to the birds and attract insects for interesting foraging opportunities and short, golf green-like turf areas and sandy substrates to keep their feet in excellent condition.
The two juveniles settled in to their new accommodation really quickly and for about two hours explored their new home, settling to sunbathe on a grassy tunnel. They particularly enjoy the misting system which delivers a very fine mist into the aviary to cool the air on warm days: the birds stand under the mist as if taking a cool shower.
We go into the aviaries twice a day to change food dishes to clean areas where needed and to check on the birds.
From when the birds were 4-day old chicks we have softly whistled each time we have offered small crickets. Now when we whistle gently the birds associate it with a positive experience and eagerly run over to us expecting a tasty treat. We use this whistle marker in our daily care of the birds – when the birds come close we have an opportunity to give them a quick visual check over, a stress free reassurance that everyone is in good fettle!. We also weigh their food in and out every day to keep an eye on their diet and how their intake varies through the year as the seasons change.
We now know both the juveniles are males and a few times this season have heard them attempting a short scratchy song in response to some singing by nearby males. As they move around their aviary, they are constantly chattering to one another with a variety of soft calls.
We will keep you updated with their progress over the next few months.