Rare bird rescue hits new milestone

Rare bird rescue hits new milestone

19 Dec 2011

Spoon-billed sandpipers, brought to the UK from Far East Russia, have been moved out of quarantine into purpose built quarters at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire.

The 13 birds will form the basis of a breeding population providing a safety net against extinction should the wild population continue its dramatic decline. It is intended that their descendents will be released into the wild.

There are thought to be fewer than 100 pairs of spoon-billed sandpipers left in the wild. Hunting and the destruction of stopover sites on the birds’ migration route have caused numbers to plunge by 90% in a decade. The breeding programme at WWT could save the species from extinction.

The spoon-billed sandpiper is an iconic bird for anyone interested in wildlife. Progress in attempts to save the bird is being followed by thousands of people worldwide.

Nigel Clark from the BTO, an expert on wading birds who also helped with the spoon-billed sandpipers’ transfer from Russia, said:

It was wonderful to see the birds for the first time. To release them into an environment that was completely new and watch them start to explore and feed. It was one of those moments that convinces me that the project to save the spoon-billed sandpiper is really worthwhile. It is testament to the dedication of many people that these birds are now so strong and healthy.”

See footage of the birds in their new quarters. 

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