Here we go! Our First And Only Lanner Chick Has Fledged At 45 Days

Meet Patrick, our first and only Lanner chick for the year

Meet Patrick. Patrick is the only Lanner chick scheduled to be released by the project this year. As explained in our last post, the 2021 breeding season has been difficult for this species all over Italy, with wildlife rescue centres and even breeding centres reporting very few eggs laid. The only egg to hatch gave us Patrick.

Patrick, the only Lanner chick to be released in 2021

This male bird got to rescue centre of Lake Vico Natural Reserve on June 2, and went straight to his hacking box. On June 14, he was weighed, ringed and equipped with a miniaturized GPS backpack.

Different techniques to keep track of wild birds

Bird ringing is the practice of applying a small metal ring on the bird’s tarsus. The ring has a unique alphanumeric code which will work as an identifier for the animal, therefore if a ringed bird is recaptured or resighted, the information is transmitted to a centralized database. This needs an international effort, which in Europe is coordinated by EURING. As a result of this, the original ringer can gather information on each animal’s status and location. This information, albeit valuable, is inherently scarce and opportunistic. To actually know where animals go, one must collect systematic tracking information.

The GPS we equipped Patrick with is a lightweight tag which can send location data via the phone network almost in real time. Every day we know where he has been. The trained eye can spot abnormal behaviour from movement data, allowing us to rescue him if we believe he has been injured. The days following fledging are the most sensitive moment, but after that we will be able to track Patrick virtually forever. This is because the GPS has a small solar panel which continuously recharges its battery.

Patrick showing his GPS backpack. You can see the 3 mini solar panels contrasting the white casing

Flight training, then fledging by instict

When Patrick was put in the hacking box, he was already showing signs that he would soon be fledging. During the first 3 days in his new home, as you can see in the below picture, he practiced by beating his wings on the edge of the hacking box. On Thursday, June 17, at the age of 45 days, he flew away from the artificial nest.

Patrick on the edge of the hacking box, training for flight

He left at his own pace, and with no external encouragement. This year, in fact, the door of the hacking box was left open all day long (it was kept shut only at night for security reasons). As a result of this, Patrick can come and go as he pleases. Since he left, food has been provided on the ledge in front of the nest, ensuring he always has a healthy supply until he is a completely independent hunter.