William Costa

Project Manager & Lead Aviculturist

About me

I am a field and conservation aviculturist with over a decade of experience, including work in six countries. Specialising in species recovery for globally and locally threatened bird populations, utilising close order management and monitoring to bolster numbers.

Birds have been my passion for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Devon, I quickly became the local ‘bird boy’, and my neighbours would bring me injured and orphaned birds to care for, from Barn owls to Collared doves. Early on I developed a love for incubation and would incubate everything from waterfowl to Rhea eggs in my bedroom; I have very understanding parents.

After completing a BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol in 2017, I got my first job at WWT as a seasonal aviculturist in the Slimbridge duckery. Since then I have worked in the U.S., the Netherlands, South Africa and the Indian Ocean (Mauritius & the Maldives), on a range of species from seabirds and birds of paradise to falcons and wildfowl; most recently I led the avicultural activities for translocations of the globally Endangered Mauritius kestrel.

My role

I first joined the Conservation Breeding Unit (CBU) in 2019 to assist with the care of the ‘ark’ population of Spoon-billed Sandpipers. This was an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to be part of the team to successfully rear the first captive bred Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

In 2022, I led on the avicultural outputs of Project Godwit, were we achieved a 98% incubation to release rate releasing 51 Black-tailed godwits (Red-listed in the UK), from eggs vulnerable to ground predation and flooding.

Currently, I work on the development of our new species recovery projects in the UK, as well as caring for the captive populations of birds that are part of WWT’s conservation breeding programs.

Experience and interests

  • Avian egg incubation experience on a wide range of taxa.
  • Field aviculture in-situ, including in remote and challenging locations.
  • Egg collection and transportation.
  • Rearing of birds for release. Experience in headstarting, soft, hard and ‘hack’ release techniques.
  • Fieldwork experience: nest surveys, wild bird catches, bird handling, ringing, behavioural observations and colony counts.
  • In-situ, close order management of threatened populations.
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