Headstarting is a collaborative effort between WWT, BirdsRussia and the RSPB, and occurs as part of the International Arctic Expedition mounted each year by BirdsRussia under the leadership of Dr. Evgeny Syroechkovskiy.

Two of the eggs at Slimbridge are fertile and developing well

On Tuesday, the eggs at Slimbridge were candled (tested for fertility) and at least two eggs are looking good! One egg from the first clutch and one from the second. As described in the blog announcing the eggs, the captive Spoon-billed Sandpipers at Slimbridge produced two clutches o
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Nest of the second pair containing two dummy eggs and one freshly laid Spoon-billed Sandpiper egg, this pair's fifth. Photo by Tanya Grigg.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers have finally laid eggs at WWT Slimbridge!

Two weeks ago we updated you on some positive signs that the captive population at WWT Slimbridge might breed this year. Now we have the great pleasure to tell you that WE HAVE EGGS, the first captive Spoon-billed Sandpiper eggs in history. We have been nervously watching the birds si
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First hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper returns to breed

The first hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper has returned to breed in Chukotka, Russia, where it was hatched two years ago. The spoon-billed sandpiper is unique in the animal kingdom for being born with a spoon-shaped beak. Numbers have declined by a quarter year on year and it is lik
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Courtship in Chukotka and Slimbridge

Roland Digby has been in Chukotka, at the spoon-billed sandpipers’ breeding ground for the last two summers, hatching and hand-rearing chicks in what is known as “headstarting”. It helps stabilise the declining spoon-billed sandpiper population and he’s back there for a third time thi
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Ken Tucker – helping prepare for breeding season

In August 2010, I took a trip to China especially to see Spoon-billed Sandpiper. I was lucky and saw about eight birds – some still in summer plumage. I felt sad when I reluctantly walked away from the last bird. I can still see it now: a mostly winter-plumaged bird bathing vigorously
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Spoon-billed sandpipers in the new communal area at WWT Slimbridge (c) Ken Tucker

Spring is on the way- for wild and captive Spoonies!

Dr Nigel Clark from the BTO came to visit the spoon-billed sandpiper breeding facility on Tuesday to check on the birds. He writes… Monday was a red letter day for the project with spoonie ‘Lime 8’ being seen in Taiwan on spring passage back to the breeding grounds.
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Slimbridge spoonies successfully migrate 30 centimetres… to ‘China’!

The captive spoon-billed sandpiper flock at Slimbridge last week made the first stage of their ‘journey’ towards breeding successfully. Months of preparation have gone into creating open air aviaries for the birds, which will mimic their summer breeding grounds, as well as being divis
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Hand reared SBS with white leg flag shortly after release (c) roland digby

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper spotted after flying quarter-way round the world

A rare hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper has been spotted for the first time in the wild, more than 8,000km from where it was released. 25 of the critically endangered birds have been raised over two years by an Anglo-Russia conservation team on the Russian tundra, before being relea
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Update on the Slimbridge flock

The birds’ new summer accommodation is almost finished. The polytunnel is up and within it are both the non-breeding birds’ summer living quarters and separate enclosures for breeding pairs. After a few weeks of groundworks and construction, all that needs to be done now is setup the
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Boys and girls

For the conservation breeding programme, for obvious reasons, we need both female and male birds. So, as the birds grow up, we’re anxious to find out who’s what. We can make a reasonable guess based on their size, because the females are on average larger than the males. But to be sur
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