The Breeding Research and Recovery Centre (BRRC) is the heart of our conservation work here at Feathered Friends, and it assists in broaching change within Australia’s avian industry to improve the conservation outcomes of native and exotic avian species. Since its opening in 2018, the centre has continually looked at devising new strategies to assist in avian conservation, both captive and natural, and this work is guided by avian experts Ravi Wasan and Alex Saleeby. Licensed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Breeding Research and Recovery Centre is already driving change in avian care and practice throughout Australia.
Currently, the centre successfully manages a range of threatened avian species with management populations of Sooty owls (Tyto tenebricosa), Red-tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus naso and Calytoryhchus samueli), Swift Parrots (Lathamus discolour), Turquoise Parrots (Neophema pulchella), Blue-winged Parrots (Neophema chrysostoma), Bush Stone Curlews (Burchinus grallarius), Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) and Andean Condors (Vultur gryphus).
Native to South America, Andean Condors (Vultur gryphus) are a specialised scavenger species that aid in the eradication of diseases such as botulism, anthrax and cholera bacteria. Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds, with 16 out of the 23 vulture species considered near threatened to critically endangered. The Andean Condor is classified as Near Threatened, and through our BRRC we are privileged to contribute to the crucial conservation work of this species.
The core concept that the research and recovery effort is based upon is Free flight conditioning – the idea that bird skill sets can be reprogrammed and retrained to increase the adaptability of species, allowing them to survive in an unfamiliar environment. The BRRC specific style of training methods, has an immense power to improve bird welfare, it also gives insight and allows for more effective research, while simultaneously increasing outcomes for released birds. Currently, the centre boasts Australia’s largest collection of diverse species of free-flight birds, and is the leader in free-flight management and education.
WHY IS OUR WORK SO IMPORTANT?
Conservation of species has been, and always will be, a significant issue that must be addressed; however, many avian species are being pushed closer and closer to the brink of extinction due to the severity of natural disasters and the challenges forced upon them by urbanisation. Vital bird habitat is disappearing, and lack of appropriate nesting environments are negatively impacting the ability of threatened species to successfully reproduce.
Australia has just seen the catastrophic fires of 2019 and 2020 which have ripped through almost 50 million acres of land. This has devastated a whole range of bird species and their habitats. These birds now face the challenges of trying to regenerate their population numbers or risk extinction, this is where we can help them.
Captive breeding programs around Australia have seen great success with increasing population numbers of threatened species; however, the same success is not seen in the release of captive bred birds into the wild. It is of utmost importance that conditioning techniques, aimed to improve the survival and breeding success of released birds, are utilised. By conditioning and providing specific training to birds prior to release, they can be taught to better cope and adapt to environmental change like urbanisation and events such as fire. Without this species-specific training, birds released into the wild have unacceptably low chances of survival.
The Breeding Research and Recovery Centre has three key areas that we focus on in our conservation efforts:
Community Reach – Educating the community through our Threatened Species Conservation Incursions, where our society can be directly linked to birds, while conservation work can be promoted, taught and encouraged throughout schools and organisations alike.
Conservation Breeding Programs – The centre works to discover insights into avian reproduction, review management processes used when artificially assisting breeding, and managing species-specific breeding programs.
Captive Free-flight Management – Training threatened species to be able to adapt to altered habitat, while increasing dietary adaptability allowing them to consume a variety of food, as well as generating new training management plans for niche species living in urban environments.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
You can support the vital conservation work being carried out by the Breeding Research and Recovery Centre by providing sponsorship. Your partnership in these programs can help fund our projects to improve conservation outcomes for threatened and rare avian species.
For more information, please contact us to see how you can help: