Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle, Austria
The Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle NBI population was established in 1997. The initial group was hand raised and guided by their human parents. The birds are left free flying and are foraging at the meadows nearby the research station and village of Gruenau, Austria. During the first three years quite a number of juvenile were lost due to juvenile dispersal short after fledging. The following years the birds were kept in an aviary during this critical period. After 3 further years the birds had built up a sedentary tradition and could be left free flying the whole year without further losses due to migratory or dispersal behaviour. The offspring of the colony are continuing this sedentary tradition.
The colony started to breed in 2000. All together the colony numbers about 40 birds (2008). Over the years the hands on management of the group has been gradually decreased and due to natural reproduction, the proportion of hand raised individuals in the group has decreased to approximately 20 %.
Since 1997 a number of research projects have been conducted including topics such as social learning, foraging, social development and socialization, cooperation of partners over raising offspring and the functions of sexual ornaments and their tradeoffs with immunity (patches of red skin). The plan for the next years is to split the colony. To do this young parent -reared birds will be transferred to another location and kept there free flying. The idea is to test how the transferred parent-reared birds will cope with this new situation.