Action Synopsis: Bird Conservation About Actions

Artificially incubate and hand-rear storks and ibises in captivity

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

A small study in the USA describes the successful artificial incubation and hand-rearing of two Abdim’s stork Ciconia abdimii chicks, whilst a review of northern bald ibis Geronticus eremita conservation found that only very intensive rearing of a small number of chicks appeared to allow strong bonds to form between chicks – thought to be important for the successful release of birds into the wild.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A small study the Audubon Park Zoo, New Orleans, USA, in 1983 (Farnell & Shannon 1987) found that a pair of Abdim’s storks Ciconia abdimii successfully bred in captivity (see ‘Use captive breeding to increase or maintain populations’), producing two eggs which were artificially incubated and hand-reared. The two chicks successfully integrated with the captive population and displayed normal behaviours. The eggs were incubated in a forced-air incubator at 36.9°C, moved to a 34°C brooder after hatching, with the temperature gradually reduced to 26°C by the time chicks were four weeks old. Hand-rearing consisted of seven feeds a day until four weeks old, when they were fed three times a day and then once a day from seven weeks old. Food consisted of commercial bird-of-prey food, fish, insects and yoghurt.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A 2007 review of northern bald ibis (waldrapp) Geronticus eremita conservation (Bowden et al. 2007) found that intensive hand-rearing of ibis chicks by a small number of human foster-parents appeared to lead to the formation of strong bonds between chicks which appear important in successful releases of the species. This study is also discussed in ‘Use captive breeding to increase or maintain populations’, ‘Release captive-bred individuals into the wild to restore or augment wild populations’, ‘Use holding pens at release sites’, ‘Release birds as adults or sub-adults, not juveniles’, ‘Clip birds’ wings on release’, ‘Use microlites to help birds migrate’ and ‘Foster birds with non-conspecifics’.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Williams, D.R., Child, M.F., Dicks, L.V., Ockendon, N., Pople, R.G., Showler, D.A., Walsh, J.C., zu Ermgassen, E.K.H.J. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Bird Conservation. Pages 137-281 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bird Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bird Conservation
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust