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Pre–release training of juvenile little owls Athene noctua to avoid predation

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Author(s): Alonso, R. | Orejas, P. | Lopes, F. | Sanz, C.

Journal: Animal Biodiversity and Conservation
ISSN 1578-665X

Volume: 34;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 389;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Little owl | Athene noctua | Reintroduction | Release | Survival | Antipredator training

ABSTRACT
Anti–predator training of juvenile little owls was tested in a sample of recovered owls raised in captivity in Brinzal Owl Rescue Center (Madrid, Spain). Mortality caused by predators has been described previously in released individuals. Nine little owls were conditioned during their development to a naturalized goshawk and a large live rat, whose presence was paired to the owl’s alarm call. All nine owls and seven non–trained individuals were then released during the late summer and autumn and radio–tracked for six weeks to test their survival. In total 71.4% of the trained owls survived while only the 33.3% of the untrained group were alive at the end of week six. The only cause of death that was detected was predation. Antipredator training, therefore, seems to be beneficial in maximizing survival after the release of juvenile little owls.
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