“Cirl buntings have been a pioneering conservation success story. That they are singing once again in Cornwall is testament to the hard work by the many people involved. That they are singing like cirl buntings demonstrates how wonderful nature is.”
Song diversity is a crucial feature among songbird populations, and although it has been examined as part of relocation or reintroduction programmes in the past, there were no studies on what happens when you translocate nestling songbirds before they have had a chance to learn their song. Although we found translocating nestlings led to a short-term lack of song diversity, the population recovered from this to produce normal songs. This is ultimately a positive conservation story that we can learn from for the future. What we found with these cirl buntings, however, cannot be guaranteed to occur in all song learning birds. So we believe the song development of a species needs to be considered in translocation projects, and that could include playing species typical song to young chicks before they are released in the wild.
Associate Professor in Animal Behaviour & Welfare
School of Biological and Marine Sciences
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