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Dec 1, 2008

Ice block feeding in White-tailed Sea eagles

Ice block feeding in White-tailed Sea eagles from Hawk Conservancy Trust

A method of simulating feeding to be more like the natural environment

Studies involving captive birds of prey are largely absent from the field of environmental enrichment.

We recorded changes in the behaviour of a pair of white-tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in response to food presented as either frozen in blocks of ice (experimental), or unfrozen (control).

During the experimental feeding, the time taken for the two eagles to eat the food increased significantly. There was also a significant change towards more feeding activity during the latter stages of observation periods.

The overall trend was towards a more even level of feeding activity, sustained over a longer period of time, for both the male and female eagles. The eagles also treated the ice blocks as novel objects and exhibited behaviours that were not recorded during the control feeding periods.

These results suggest that ice block feeding may be a simple and effective method of increasing the activity budget of captive white-tailed sea eagles and other species.

Developed by:  Hawk Conservancy Trust

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