Newborn lanner Aida is back with her parents

Caring for a newborn lanner is not so easy

Little Aida, the newborn lanner falcon, has just gone back to her nest with her parents Gea and Atlante. Most captive raptors show very strong parental instincts, at least when in good mental and physical health, but caring for offspring is no easy task. Egg incubation and the first week after hatching are the most delicate periods. Inexperienced birds can be clumsy, even to the point of accidentally cracking their egg, and the very first days are critical for healthy chick growth. A great deal of both experience and attention are needed.

This is Gea and Atlante’s first breeding experience, and we want to watch out for them during this adventure. Following an established protocol, widespread among breeding centres, we are doing everything in our possibilities to increase Aida’s chance of survival, and to make this an effective learning experience for the parents. Hopefully, they will be able to breed and raise many more chicks in the future. We have been using the same falconry techniques used in the ‘70s for the reintroduction of the peregrine falcon in North America by the world-famous Peregrine Fund.

The captive breeding procotol we followed

After laying their 3 eggs, Gea and Atlante incubated them for 10 days, the time length necessary for the embryo to form. Then, the eggs have been moved to an automatic incubator, and replaced with surrogates in the nest. We wanted to stave off any risk of damage to the eggs by the inexperienced couple. Support for our decision was not long in coming: one of the eggs in the nest was accidentally broken halfway through incubation. By candling them, we saw that only one of the eggs was viable. Aida hatched after 20 days in the incubator, and was placed into a special hot chamber where it could dry and rest after the huge effort of being born. For her first week, Aida was fed by trained personnel rotating over 18 hour shifts. After this period, she returned to her parents.

Gea and Atlante reunited with their chick Aida

Lovely interactions between chick and parents

Gea and Atlante met the newborn lanner when it was already in good shape, making it easier for them to care for it. The reintroduction process was gradual: we used a small cage to protect Aida in the nest, and to test the mother’s parental instinct. As soon as the cage was in the nest, Gea tried to brood it immediately, so we readily freed the chick from it. In this video we show Aida’s first meal with her parents. Gea went on brooding for half an hour and then started calling, urging Atlante to bring her food. When he arrived with prey, he met his chick for the first time. After these clumsy and adorable moments, Aida fell asleep under her mother with a full belly.

Dad brings food to the nest, and the parents learn to feed their newborn chick

Rearing chicks together is a bonding experience for parents, and it also improves their perception of the aviary and their surroundings in general. Although in captivity, they become more confident and satisfied, and all this while aiding with the species’ conservation.

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