Tag Archives: white-tailed tropic bird

How to handfeed a tropicbird in five easy steps

Iona and the tropicbird

Iona and the tropicbird

We often receive injured or lost birds picked up by concerned members of the public. Recently, someone brought a white-tailed tropicbird juvenile which they had found. Although it was quite big it was unable to fly and so it could not go out to look for food. Riaz, our science coordinator took it home to look after it until it could fly. But he had to leave Mahe and go to Cousin Island for a few days and the bird couldn’t fly yet, so he recruited Martin, our community person, and his children to do the job while he was away. Let’s pick up this story from Iona, Martin’s daughter….

Dad came home from work on Friday afternoon with a box which had ‘bird inside be careful’ written on the top. When Dad stopped moving a bird’s head popped out. It was white with a black and white beak and speckly black bits. I got to hold it on my knee while we drove to a fish stall to get some fish for it. Dad said someone had brought it into his work in a box and we got to take it home to look after it for a few days. When we looked inside we saw the bird had a white body with black speckles. We gave it some fish but it wasn’t very interested, so we left it in the corner of the dining room. This morning we heard a lot of noise from the box and it was trying to spread its wings out so we got a bigger box and gently tipped it in.

Guess what I just did… can you gess? No? ok I’ll tell you, I HAND FED THE BIRD!!!!! well, I held the bird (the bird is called a white tailed tropic bird) while dad held the beak open and Sophie fed it. We have to force feed it because it’s a baby and we have to teach it to fly too! I bet dad is thinking “I wish I hadn’t taken that bird home”. Dad thought he would have to give it some fish and it would fly away. We also have to feed it 4 times a day. this is how to hand feed a tropic bird in 5 simpe stages; 1, mash up some fish or squid with some water and put on a plate. 2, gently grab the bird directly down and tuck your thumbs under it’s head. 3, then you wrap it in a old tea towel. 4, you take 3 people one to hold the bird firmly, the other to hold open the beak ( don’t break the beak.) and the last to shove the food down it’s throat, then the 2nd to close the beak. 5, if the bird shakes it’s head it could get very messy, but if it puts it head back and looks likes it’s choking it’s swallowing. repeat until the plate is empty.

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Martin and the children also left Mahe before the juvenile flew, so they brought it back to the office to be looked after by other staff here. After a couple of days we took it down to the beach next to our office and off it went. Sadly Iona wasn’t here to see it, but she was happy with this ending. Thanks Iona!

Ian’s Cousin Diary

June has been an extremely dry month on Cousin with a total recorded rainfall of 40mm. The wind direction varied from South East to the East South East throughout the month. The wind speed also varied in the range of 35-40km/h and on the night of 16 of June could have even reached at least 70km/h. This makes the sea conditions moderate to very rough most of the time.

The Seychelles Magpie robin (Copsychus sechellarum) Cousin population now stands at 38 rung birds spread over 11 territories. This is a considerable increase from previous months.

The en masse arrival of the Lesser Noddies for this month is the main highlight as the visitors are astounded by their abundant presence and their ‘kkeeleekk’ sound and not to mention lots of ‘pooping’ on their heads!

The noddies are here... (Jorge Fernandez)

The noddies are here... (Jorge Fernandez)

...and they "poop" alot

...and they "poop" alot

On that note, Eric and Mary have started off the breeding success monitoring for this species involving 10 selected plot/trees amounting to 100 nests. Other staff members are actively involved every fortnightly in the breeding success monitoring of the White Tern and White-tailed Tropicbird.

The Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) is present in some numbers. Some were observed still in their breeding plumage.

Till next time. Ian.