The Effects of Enrichment on the Behavior and Physiology of Captive Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).
Beecy, Sidney J.
- Undomesticated animals are prone to developing abnormal behaviors in captivity, such as stereotypies, but the physiological stress profiles of these animals can vary widely. Animal caretakers often implement environment enrichment to attenuate behavioral abnormalities and stress pathologies. This study implements an intermittent enrichment protocol and examines its effect on the behavior and stress ... read morephysiology of eight starlings in long-term captivity. Originally, the starlings were housed in individual bird cages that were attached to experimental apparatuses. Enrichment was provided using an aviary approximately 9x larger in volume than a home-cage, first containing familiar objects, then containing novel perches and toys for enrichment purposes. Two groups of four starlings spent three hours in the aviary twice a week, providing social enrichment. Blood was sampled at regular intervals to determine HPA axis functioning using a three-part measurement (baseline, stress-induced, and negative feedback) related to physiological stress. Additionally, the birds were video recorded weekly in their home-cages and in the aviary in order to examine behavioral effects. We found that the intermittent enrichment protocol significantly changed the behavior of the starlings but did not significantly affect their CORT profiles, with social-based enrichment having a more positive impact that toy-based enrichment.read less