Every year, the loggerhead shrikes we hatch are released in Ontario, where the species is critically endangered. One night in early August, we round up all of our juveniles, place them in crates and drive them overnight to the United States-Canada border. Once we clear inspections on both sides, we take the birds directly to our Wildlife Preservation Canada partner’s release site in Carden, Ontario.
At the site, the shrikes are released into field pens. They spend about two weeks acclimating to their environment. At the end of that period, our partners examine each bird and band them with a unique numerical band and multiple color bands, which make it easy for the field team or the general public to identify an individual bird and report them back to us..
Some of them also receive radio telemetry tags to help track their post-release movements using the MOTUS system—a network of radio towers that pick up a bird’s unique tag number when the animal flies near it.
Once the birds receive their tags, they are “soft-released;” that is, the doors to the field pens are opened, but the field team continues to provide food and water for the birds. Birds can come and go from the pens as they please until they choose to start their migration.