Bird

Critically Endangered Magpie Bred at Chester Zoo

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Four Javan Green Magpies have hatched at Chester Zoo. This is the first time the world’s rarest Magpie has been bred in a UK zoo, which provides a major boost to conservation efforts to save this species from extinction.

Conservationists and bird staff at the Zoo are making every effort to try and save the species, which has been trapped to the very brink in its native Indonesian forests. Chester Zoo has been working with assistance from Taman Safari Indonesia and conservation partners, Cikananga Wildlife Centre.

In late 2015, six pairs of the birds were flown from Java, Indonesia to Chester to establish a conservation breeding and insurance population for the species in Europe, before the birds vanish in the wild altogether.

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4_Javan green magpies at Chester Zoo (2)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

The Javan Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina) is native to western Java in Indonesia and inhabits dense montane forests. Their bright green plumage is attained through the food the birds eat: insects, frogs and lizards.

The species is listed as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but bird experts are warning that the situation may have worsened in recent months, amid fears that the rare Magpies may now be close to extinction in the wild, with no recent sightings reported.

However, the breeding of the four new chicks at Chester Zoo has given a huge lift to conservation efforts to save the birds. Andrew Owen, the Zoo’s Curator of Birds, explains the importance of the breeding successes, “I have had the privilege of working with many rare and beautiful birds, but none are more precious than the Javan Green Magpie: one of the world’s most endangered species.

“We’ve been working with our conservation partners in Java - the Cikananga Wildlife Centre - for more than six years. In that time we’ve seen Javan Green Magpies disappear almost completely from the wild as they are captured for the illegal bird trade. Huge areas of forests that were once filled with beautiful songbirds are falling silent.

“Knowing that our first pair had nested was a momentous occasion for us - seeing the first chick was even more special. All four chicks have now fledged and are currently sporting blue feathers, which will eventually turn apple green as they mature.

“So far we have successfully bred from two adult pairs and these four chicks are a vital addition to the worldwide population. Every individual we breed here could help save the species as the clock is ticking and time is running out.”

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, added, “The rapid decline of the Javan Green Magpie in the wild is due to on-going trapping pressures, agricultural intrusion and a continued loss of suitable forest habitat in west Java in Indonesia.

“We started the first ever European conservation breeding programme for the species when six pairs of Javan Green Magpies arrived in Chester in December last year. Our specialist team, in conjunction with two other top European zoos, is aiming to ensure their continued survival.

“Our long-term aim is to return birds bred here in the UK and Europe to the forests of Indonesia.”

The arrival of the four chicks brings the total number of Javan Green Magpies at Chester Zoo to eleven. The Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre currently has 19 birds, all under the expert care of Chester Zoo staff and local Indonesian experts.

Chester Zoo’s Act for Wildlife conservation campaign has recently launched a new initiative to raise vital funds to build new aviaries at the breeding centre in Java, which are in danger of collapse due to the destructive humidity and termites. Find more information here: http://www.chesterzoo.org/support-us/act-for-wildlife   Or here: www.actforwildlife.org.uk 

More beautiful pics, below the fold!

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Turaco Chick Comes Out Of Its Shell

Great Blue Touraco Chick at Paradise Park CornwallWhat did zoo keepers do when two little chicks were reluctant to leave their eggs?  At Great Britain’s Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary, keepers helped the tiny birds come out of their shells, ensuring the survival of two healthy Great Blue Turaco chicks.

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Keeper Becky Waite with Great Blue Touraco Chick Paradise Park
Photo Credit:  Paradise Park Wildlife Sanctuary
 
Zoo keeper Becky Waite explains that the zoo’s adult female Turacos are temperamental nesters, sometimes pushing eggs out of the nest or failing to feed their chicks.  To give the Turaco chicks the best chance of survival, keepers decided to hand-rear the pair.

For the first ten days, keepers fed the chicks moistened pelleted food.  Gradually, the chicks were introduced to greens and steamed broccoli, then bits of banana, mango, figs, and blueberries.

Turacos are altricial, meaning the young cannot move or feed themselves after hatching and require care from their parents (or zoo keepers).  The chicks start out with sparse downy feathers, which are replaced by smooth feathers when the chick fledge (leave the nest).

Great Blue Turacos are native to western and central Africa and are the largest of all Turaco species.  These birds are not considered under threat by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

See more photos of the chick below.

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Chester Zoo Keepers Lend a Hand to Exotic Starlings

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Bird keepers at Chester Zoo, in the UK, recently provided around-the-clock care to six exotic Starling chicks.

The tiny Grosbeak Starlings, which are native to Indonesia, have been successfully hand-reared after being fed a combination of pinky mouse and papaya every few hours for five weeks.

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4_Zookeepers give helping hand to exotic starling chicks (10)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

 Now fully fledged, all six birds have made their first public appearances in the Zoo’s new Monsoon Forest exhibit (the biggest zoological building in the UK and part of an Islands zone at the zoo, which is aiming to put a spotlight on the conservation of animals and plants from South East Asia).

Bird keeper Leanne Lowton said, “The birds started out each weighing just a few grams, and helping such tiny little chicks to eat requires a high degree of patience and lots of gentle encouragement.

“We use delicate little tweezers to deliver food to them and then it’s really important to keep track of their development along the way. To do this, we pop them on to a mini set of scales and check their weight every day – making sure they’re getting everything they need.

“For a good few months it’s a time consuming process; and life does tend to revolve around the chicks’ feeding schedule, but it’s ever-so-rewarding to see them go on and fledge.”

Curator of birds, Andrew Owen, added, “It’s vitally important that our bird staff have opportunities to hone their hand-rearing skills at the zoo as it’s these very same techniques that we can use to help seriously threatened species in the wild.

“Right now, for example, we have two keepers from the zoo based in Mauritius working with some of the world’s most critically endangered birds. It’s all of the knowhow and intricate techniques that they’ve learnt at the zoo that’s enabling them to play a key role in helping to conserve the likes of the Mauritius olive white-eye, Mauritius fody and Mauritius cuckoo shrike. ”

Chester Zoo works towards the conservation of numerous bird species around the world including projects in Bali, Java and Sumatra.

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Zoo Staff are Surrogate Parents for Tufted Puffin Chick

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When a Tufted Puffin chick hatched in the Oregon Coast Aquarium's Seabird Aviary on July 24, it seemed as if everything was going to plan.

The baby bird, nicknamed Stella, weighed in at a healthy 2.26 ounces (64 grams) and was under the care of experienced parents.

By Stella’s day-two checkup, something was clearly amiss. The chick was not gaining weight. The parents were not delivering fish or brooding the chick to keep it warm as Puffin parents should. 

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Following a second day of careful observation, it was clear Stella needed an intervention. The aviculturists brought the chick behind the scenes to be hand-raised.

“We do not want Stella to imprint on us, so we limit interactions to feeding and cleaning time, and make adult Puffin noises as we feed,” said CJ McCarty, curator of birds for the aquarium. 

“Stella is so fluffy it is a little hard to resist cuddling, but because we plan to reintegrate this Puffin with the population in the Seabird Aviary, minimizing human contact is in its best interest.”

During the early days, a heat lamp kept Stella warm, and a feather duster stood in its parents’ stead for snuggling. The aquarium’s aviculturists fed it every two hours, and even came in late and early to ensure it receives the nourishment it needed.

See more photos after the fold!

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Rare Horned Guans Hatch at Saint Louis Zoo

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The Saint Louis Zoo announced that two critically endangered Horned Guan chicks hatched at the Zoo on August 7—the first for the Zoo and only the second recorded breeding of the species in the United States. 

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Horned guan adult_David Merritt Saint Louis ZooPhoto Credits:  Ray Meibaum (1, 2, 3); David Merritt (4)

Because these are the first offspring for the inexperienced parents, the chicks are being hand-raised behind the scenes.

At two weeks old, the chicks weighed five ounces, stood about 8 inches tall and had fuzzy brown and black downy feathers. Their unique horns will start to develop at approximately 3 months of age. The horn begins with two bumps on the top of the head. These bumps gradually twist and grow together.

One of the rarest bird species in the world, the Horned Guan population in the wild is down to only 1,000 to 2,000 individuals in southeastern Mexico and Guatemala because their cloud forest habitat has been destroyed for logging, coffee plantations and other cash crops.

“This hatching is an important development in what has been a great effort to save this species; it was the result of many years of hard work,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President and Chief Executive Officer at the Saint Louis Zoo. “It took great attention to the welfare of the parents and enormous patience and persistence” from the zoo staff to achieve this milestone.

The parents of the two chicks are a male, age 12, who arrived at the zoo nine years ago and a female, 7, who arrived five years ago from the Cloud Forest Ambassadors Program at the Africam Safari Zoo in Puebla, Mexico, where they hatched. In 2007, the Saint Louis Zoo became the first accredited zoo in the nation to exhibit this species. Currently 56 Horned Guans are found in five institutions primarily in Mexico.  

Large and dramatic, the adult Horned Guan (seen in the bottom photo) has a unique two-inch-long red horn of bare skin extending from the top of its head. This horn is thought to be ornamental to attract a mate. This bird has a bright white chest laced with fine lines of black feathers and a body covered with a jet black plumage that shines an iridescent blue in the sun. They are about the size of a small turkey and are arboreal, rarely coming to the ground in their native mountain forests. Horned Guans are related to some of the most endangered birds in the world—Curassows, Guans and Chachalacas.

The Saint Louis Zoo began working intensively with other species of Guans in 1997, when it received a $25,000 Institute of Museum Services grant to investigate artificial insemination techniques in this highly endangered group of birds.  The zoo was also the location for the first ever hatching of a chick—a common Piping Guan—from the artificial insemination of a cracid species. Cracids are a family of game birds, like the Horned Guan, that are found predominantly throughout the Latin American tropics.

Since then, the zoo has worked with this endangered family of birds in Trinidad and Columbia and, in 2004, founded the WildCare Institute and the Center for Conservation of the Horned Guan. The Horned Guan Conservation Center staff has worked for a decade with its partners to conduct research on this elusive species. The complex dynamics of seed dispersal and habitat utilization are little understood.

The Center also is encouraging improved habitat management—advocating for increasing the protected area that is home to the Horned Guan and working to limit the factors that threaten vulnerable wildlife in this area. In addition, the Center has initiated an education program to teach local communities how to farm in more habitat-friendly ways and to strengthen community conservation participation.

“These programs, coupled with enforcement action, are expected to help reduce the threats caused by illegal timber removal and hunting,” said Center Director Michael Macek. “There is hope for this species thanks to efforts to reduce coffee plantations and to form additional reserves that can provide potential for eco-tourism, resulting in alternative economic opportunities for local communities.”

 


'Chicks Rule' at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

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A Steller’s Sea Eagle, a Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick, and three Spur-Winged Lapwings are among the significant hatchings reported in the past two weeks, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

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[Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford (Image 1: Steller's Sea Eagle chick; Image 2: Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick; Image 3: Spur-winged Lapwing chicks)]

Steller’s Sea Eagles are one of the most rare raptors in the world. They are twice the size of, and much more aggressive than, their close relative, the Bald Eagle. The Cincinnati Zoo was the only Zoo in the U.S. to breed this species successfully, until the Denver Zoo hatched a chick last year. Cincinnati has now bred three pairs, and produced 12 chicks, in cooperation with the Species Survival Plan (SSP). There are currently 22 Steller’s Sea Eagles in 11 North American institutions.

Chick watch began on April 29, when Aviculture staff noticed the Sea Eagle parents looking down at their nest more frequently. A chick was first observed on May 3, and by May 7it looked to have doubled in size. Their incubation period can last 39 to 45 days and they lay one to three eggs (but only one chick usually survives).

As of 2009, the Steller’s Sea Eagle population was estimated at 5,000 birds worldwide, but that number is dropping. Although legally protected in Russia, Japan, China, and South Korea, other threats to these rare birds include fossil fuel energy developments, wind farms, pollution, habitat loss, hunting, and possibly global warming.

The Cincinnati Zoo hatched its first Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick on May 2. To date, San Diego, Honolulu, and Miami are the only Zoos in the U.S. to produce Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chicks that lived at least 30 days.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s chick has almost reached that milestone and keepers are optimistic that it will stay in good health. The chick’s 13-year-old father is the most genetically valuable of his species (meaning his genes are the most needed in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) collections to keep the population as healthy/genetically diverse as possible).

The Cincinnati Zoo has mimicked the life strategy of these birds in the wild.  Males get together and show off in a central tall tree (called a “lek”), while the females gather around to view the spectacle and select a mate.  They breed and she flies off to build her nest and raise her chick all by herself while the male goes back to dancing!

Bird-of-Paradise chicks often do well as hand-reared youngsters. They eat mostly insects, pinkie mice pieces, and papaya and are extremely intelligent birds that can learn to mimic many noises and sometimes speech. All Bird-of-Paradise species are protected, in Papua New Guinea, from the large-scale hunting that occurred there in the late 1800’s and nearly drove several species to extinction. Their feathers and skins were exported, by the thousands, for fashionable hats. Their biggest concern now is rainforest habitat loss.

Three Spur-Winged Lapwings also join the list. Although they are not rare at all in the wild, they are still special to the Cincinnati Zoo and genetically significant offspring from first-time parents.

The Spur-Winged Lapwing breeds around the eastern Mediterranean and in a wide band from sub-Saharan West Africa to Arabia. The Greek and Turkish breeders are migratory, but other populations are resident. The species is declining in its northern range, but it is abundant in much of tropical Africa, being seen at almost any wetland habitat in its range. 


Dozens Of Babies Steal The Show At Cincinnati Zoo

2015-04-02 Lion Cubs 1 626The Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating a baby bonanza – dozens of babies have been born at the zoo in the past few months.  In fact, there are so many babies that the zoo is celebrating “Zoo Babies” month in May.Kea

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All the little ones have kept their parents – and zoo keepers – busy.  The three female African Lion cubs are particularly feisty, testing their “grrrl” power on a daily basis with their father John and mother Imani. 

Other babies include three Bonobos, two Gorillas, a Bongo, a Serval, two Capybaras, a Rough Green Snake, Giant Spiny Leaf Insects, Thorny Devils, Little Penguin chicks and Kea chicks.  “This is the largest and most varied group of babies we’ve had. We’re particularly excited about the successes we’ve had with the endangered African Painted Dogs and the hard-to-breed Kea,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director.

See more photos of Cincinnati's Zoo's babies below.

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Zoo Praha Breeds an Endangered Philippine Scops Owl

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Zoo Praha has managed to parent-rear a Philippine Scops Owl chick. The endangered species of owl lives only in the northern part of the Philippines. Prague Zoo actively contributes to its protection in cooperation with the rescue station for owls on the Philippine island of Negros. So far, the sex of the chick is unknown. Currently Zoo Praha has one breeding pair of Philippine Scops Owls. The female came from Luzon Island and the male was reared at Wroclaw Zoo.

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Photo Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo


Marshbirds On the March

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It is the peak of the nesting and hatching season in the Marsh Aviary at NaturZoo Rheine, the home of a large mixed colony of coastal birds like Ruffs, Redshanks, Lapwings and Avocets. NaturZoo Rheine has been renowned as an expert for breeding waders for decades. Every year at least dozens and up to more than a hundred chicks of the different species are reared and distributed to zoos worldwide. However, working with these birds is never routine and there are always challenges in husbandry.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) chicks are extremely agile from hatching on. This is evidenced in their food searching skills – their ability to filter and pick up small particles of food from the water surface. Adults care well for the chicks, guiding, defending and warming them and scooping them up into their plumage. However, most of these chicks have been reared by zookeepers to ensure balanced care as it's not guaranteed in the large colony in the aviary because of territoriality and rivalry among the birds.

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Endangered Siberian Crane Hatches at Franklin Park Zoo

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Franklin Park Zoo in Massachusetts has announced the successful hatching of a rare Siberian Crane chick. Hatched on May 6, the chick is the offspring of Sneetch, age 20, and Shakti, age 22.

In the wild, Siberian Cranes breed in the high Arctic regions of Siberia. These Endangered birds stand about 4 feet (120 cm) tall and are noted for their pure white plumage and black flight feathers. It is estimated that only 3,000 of these birds remain in the wild.

There are only 21 Siberian Cranes in captivity in four North American institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Franklin Park Zoo has six Siberian Cranes including the new chick. Since 1999, there have been eight chicks, including the newest chick, hatched at the zoo.

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This success is the result of a lot of hard work and technical expertise. The chick at Franklin Park Zoo is a result of artificial insemination. The chick’s parents, a breeding pair, have resided at Franklin Park Zoo since 1996. Because these birds hail from the high Arctic regions, each year on February 14 the zoo staff increases the amount of light in the birds’ exhibit by one hour a week to simulate the light cycle in their native environment. The light is increased until the birds receive 21 to 22 hours of light a day. Once the light cycle reaches this point, the birds typically begin breeding. Franklin Park Zoo is actually the first zoo in North America to have successfully bred this endangered species.

“Siberian Cranes are an incredible species with an important conservation story to tell. Every successful hatch is important as it helps to hedge against this species’ extinction,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England president and CEO. “With any new birth or hatch, there is always risk but we are hopeful that this new chick will continue to thrive and will contribute to the survival of its species.”