A trial protection program involving around 40 spotted pardalote has become quite a success story. Spotted pardalote is a small Tasmanian bird who is under threat of extinction, due to logging of their native forests and the rise of a parasitic fly. These flies lays eggs in their nests and the maggots will then feed on the blood of newly hatched chicks. With logging and these flies, 90% of chicks never reach adulthood.
In the journal Animal Conservation, PhD student Fernanda Alves, provided a way to keep these birds safe. Pardalotes use feathers to make their nests soft, as they do not produce enough of their own to keep them warm, so they scavenge feathers dropped by other birds. Alves treated chicken feathers with insecticides and left them close to trees with pardalote nests; other nests were given untreated feathers as a control to the study. The total study included 38 nests with an average of 4 chicks per nest.
“The results were fantastic. Birds took the treated feathers back to their nests and as a result 95 percent of the chicks survived,whereas, those that used untreated feathers had only an 8 percent survival rate,” Alves said. She goes onto mention that many other bird species use feathers as soft material, while others prefer fur. The technique could be used to help endangered birds in other areas of the world!