New shelters fight frosty feet for wildfowl from warmer climates
Ducks and geese from warmer climates can fight frosty feet this winter inside new homes at WWT Arundel Wetland Centre. Australian mapgpie geese and Indian white-faced whistling ducks have feet better designed for the milder climates their species are named after. Exposure to frost can damage their delicate feet, causing deformities.
“The frost is a real danger and the new walled shelters stop it from creeping in,” said Sam McKinlay, reserve supervisor. Volunteers and staff at Arundel Wetland Centre have constructed four new ‘Magpie Mansions’. These sturdy wooden shelters have three walls, asphalt roofs and wooden floors lined with straw. The straw-covered wooden pallets used as shelters in past years have been upgraded by adding log walls to keep out the cold.
The winter temperatures are dropping and hard frosts are predicted this week. “The birds haven’t had to use the new shelters very often this winter,” said reserve warden Paul Stevens,” but thanks to our volunteers we have them now, when it is really crucial.”
Along with the shelters new self-feeders have been introduced to ensure geese in the Arundel Wetland Centre collection can help themselves to extra food in cold weather. Visitors say these strange looking black plastic shapes on three legs look like space-ships, but the feeders are designed to keep the grain off the ground and away from vermin and pigeons.
Published 30th January 2012
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