Conservation Breeding Aviculturist

william.costa@wwt.org.uk

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About me

Birds have been my passion for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Devon I quickly became the local ‘bird boy’, and my neighbours would bring me injured and orphaned birds to care for, from Barn owls to Collared doves. Early on I developed a love for incubation and would incubate everything from waterfowl to Rhea eggs in my bedroom, I have very understanding parents.

After completing a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol in 2017 I got my first job at WWT as a seasonal aviculturist in the Slimbridge duckery. Since then I have worked with Hornbills and Birds of Paradise in the Netherlands, rehabilitated Penguins in South Africa, run the incubation and rearing of waterbirds at the Slimbridge duckery and most recently hand reared and translocated Kestrels in Mauritius.

Work

I first joined the Conservation breeding unit in 2019 to assist with the care of the ‘Ark’ population of Spoon-billed Sandpipers. This was an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to be part of the team to successfully rear the first captive bred Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

My current role is based behind the scenes at WWTs Conservation breeding Unit (CBU), where I care for the captive populations of birds involved in WWTs Conservation breeding programs, these include: Baer’s Pochards, Black-tailed Godwits and Spoon-billed Sandpipers. I also play a role in developing and testing novel avicultural techniques that can be applied to our projects in-situ.

Skills

  • Avian egg incubation experience on a wide range of taxa
  • Field aviculture in-situ, including in remote and challenging locations
  • Egg collection and transportation
  • Rearing of birds for release. Experience in headstarting, soft, hard and ‘hack’ release techniques
  • Fieldwork experience: nest surveys, wild bird catches, bird handling, ringing, behavioural observations and colony counts
  • In-situ close order management of threatened populations