Incubating eggs

Most eggs from the airfields are delivered before incubation has started, and with an incubation period of 30 days, careful management of the eggs is crucial. 

Each egg is weighed and measured on arrival, the weight loss during incubation was recorded and conditions in the incubators adapted to ensure close to the ideal egg weight loss of 15% per day.

Weighing and measuring eggs and placing eggs in the incubator

Rearing chicks

Once chicks hatch, they are kept indoors for about a week in tubs with others from their brood or the same hatch date, with ‘mop mums’ under which to hide. They are fed a special diet to ensure good growth and development. Once they are about a week old, they are moved to outdoor polytunnel aviaries where they stay with others of a similar age until about 35 days old.

Here, they have small huts with infrared heat lamps to shelter under during inclement weather, and are provided with water and a specialist diet for rearing captive waders, although many are seen taking live food in the pen.

Indoor rearing facility

Outdoor facility

When the chicks hatch, they are given an identity ring, so we follow individuals all the way through their growing stage.

At around four or five weeks old the chicks have grown enough to replace this ring with uniquely coded, coloured leg flags and a BTO metal ring. This will enable them to be identified as part of this project, if they are seen later in the wild. At this stage they are transferred from the polytunnel to the nursery flight pen. 

The flight pen houses curlews of similar size and age, where they continue to grow, after receiving their leg flags, until fledge, with minimal human disturbance.

Chick with 1st colour ID ring

Nursery flight pen

30 day old chick with BTO ring and leg flag

Nearly fledged