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Born Free USA Global Field Projects

A Head Start with Nutri-Start

Published 05/08/11

Dr. LoraKim Joyner of Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife blogs:
Often with wild scarlet macaws even though three chicks may hatch in the nest, it is uncommon for all three chicks to fledge successfully. Frequently the third chick has a slower growth rate than the older two siblings, fails to thrive, and dies. Conservationists are working hard to figure out why this happens and if there is anything they can do to improve the chances of the third chick’s survivability. If this chick could fledge, that would be one more individual bird in the wild which might just make the difference that keeps this macaw species from altogether disappearing within their natural habitat.

To give these chicks a chance, this year here in Guatemala the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) temporarily removed chicks that were not thriving in nests so that they could feed them. The chicks are housed in one of their remote field stations close to the wild macaw population, and their health is carefully monitored by biologists and veterinarians. Once the chicks gain enough weight and demonstrate health and vigor, they will be placed into different nests, or if necessary, released as juveniles into the wild.

The birds have done remarkably well, mostly in part because of the hard work and dedication of WCS. They feed the chicks on a regular schedule through the day and night, using a powdered hand feeding formula, Nutri-Start.

This formula is added to hot water, which is then feed by syringe to the birds. Donated by Lafeber Company, this diet has made it possible for WCS to not only keep birds alive that would have otherwise died, but to have them thrive so as to give them a another chance to rejoin their wild counterparts.

Along with WCS, I give my thanks to Dr. Lafeber Sr. for starting this company, and now to Dr. Lafeber Jr. for continuing on with a gracious dedication to birds, their nutrition, and their well being. They have contributed significantly to offering these young chicks a head start in life, which might just be the saving of a species.

Read more updates about our scarlet macaw project.

See the scarlet macaw project's photo gallery.

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