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Raptor Rehabilitation and Research

What's hacking?

Hacking is a release-method which enables rehabilitators to release orphaned juvenile bird-of-prey- and owl-species without their parent birds. If it is done correctly, the chance of survival for the juveniles is high, at least for most of them.

I'll describe the method in short to give you an idea how it is done, but always keep in mind, that                                               a) you need a permission to do this and                                        b) hacking needs specialists to do the job, so please DON'T try!

First the nestlings have to be raised without imprinting them on humans which is not easy. As soon as they can stand upright, hold their food and tear it, they are put into the so-called hackbox (Have a look at the pic at the bottom of the text!). They are fed there through a slot and should not see the provider of the food to keep the birds shy. Once flight training is noticed, the door of the box is opened. The fledgelings regard this hackbox as their homebase, their nest-ledge and normally always return there after their initial flights. Of course the box has to be set up in the natural habitat of the birds you want to release. You can now provide the food in, on or near the box as long as the juveniles need it. You are their insurance to be fed whenever their hunting attempts fail, which can take several weeks. A hard job watching, sometimes taking a bird back up after a strong gale or thunderstorm, keeping a watchful eye on other predators or humans who are too interested what's going on there. But hacking can be very rewarding if it works - and it does as many ring recoveries after some years and from distances over 700 miles show with my released Kestrels. If some birds survive it's worth the effort.

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hackbox.jpg (110130 Byte)

Photo 1: The hackbox I use to release Eurasian Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus).

Website and photos © Wolfgang Dolak, A-3943 Schrems, Dr. Friedrich Siller-Straße 26, AUSTRIA
Phone: 043/ 2853 76670 or 043/ 664 1707276
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