OWCN has been painting bird beaks with nail polish over the past few weeks….and we actually have a good reason! We have been investigating non-invasive methods to mark birds in captivity – something that will allow us to identify individuals, even when other marking methods, such as leg bands, might be hidden from view, or without actually handling the animal. We also wanted to utilize a method that didn’t require us to put anything on the feathers, thereby avoiding potential waterproofing issues, and also something that would not come off in the water. Nail polish is of course commonly used on humans, but is successfully used to mark wild animals for studies, and even in rehabilitation centers on occasion. We used a fast drying, low scent polish on the birds, and have a no-odor, acetone free remover to take it off, approved by our veterinarians. Preliminary results showed no adverse effects to the birds, and we will be examining our method more in depth next month.
The ability to identify individuals opens up many possibilities for the OWCN. For example, during a spill we could potentially mark all animals that need to be medicated daily with a certain color, making it easy to pull those individuals out. Additionally, the OWCN has two research studies lined up where we intend to use this marking method in order to identify birds by video camera.
We look forward to sharing more results with you all soon!