Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Use techniques to increase the survival of species after capture

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Key messages

  • A small controlled study from the USA found that providing dark, quiet environments with readily-available food and water increased the survival of small birds after capture and increased the probability that they would accept captivity.
  • A study from Hawaii found that keeping birds warm in a ‘mock’ translocation in Hawaii increased survival, although all birds suffered some loss of condition.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A small controlled study over the summers of 1986-1988 tested two transportation methods (prior to reintroduction attempts) from Michigan to Ohio, USA (Bocetti 1994) and found that Nashville warblers Vermivora ruficapilla were more likely to survive using a modified technique that provided dark, quiet environments, prompter delivery of food and water and reduced handling time.  When the standard technique for introducing warblers to captivity was used, 79% of warblers appeared to adapt to the captive environment and five birds died. When the new technique was used, 88% and 96% warblers (1987 and 1988 respectively) adapted, significantly more than when using the standard technique. A total of 188 trips (612 km one-way) were made without fatality.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A small controlled study on Hawaii in December 1996 evaluated the effects of translocation on common amakihi Hemignathus virens and Japanese white-eyes Zosterops japonicas (Work et al. 1999). Birds kept overnight without thermal support had significantly higher mortality rates (4/10 birds in both species) than those provided with thermal support (0/10 common amakihi and 1/10 Japanese white-eyes), and birds that lost the most weight had the highest mortality. Birds were captured, transported by car for four hours and kept in captivity for 48 hours before release.  All birds suffered weight loss, and fat and protein store depletion, with all deaths occurring within the first 24 hours following capture, regardless of whether the birds were quarantined and then transported or transported and then quarantined. Bird age, capture weight, or fat score did not affect survival rates.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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