Dracula parrot: rare Pesquet's parrot appeared in Moscow Zoo

March 19
Parks and pedestrian areas

Rare Pesquet's parrots appeared in Moscow Zoo for the first time ever. In the wild, they can be found in New Guinea only. This bird species are listed in the International Red Book as close to extinction.

Pesquet's parrots are also called vulturine parrots. They resemble vultures and eagles by their head shape with a predominantly black color. Bird’s heads are covered with bristle-like feathers, for which reason the species got another name - bristle-headed parrots. And since feathers are red on their belly and wings, people named the bird kind Dracula - in honor of the main character in the same-title novel by Bram Stoker, the Irish writer. In the storyline, Dracula, the vampire wore a black cloak with a scarlet lining.

Male and female Pesquet's parrots arrived in the capital from a private zoo in the City of Shakhty, Rostov Region. After the flight, they underwent a month-long quarantine under the vigilant supervision of zoologists and veterinarians.

"The birds turned out to be sociable and friendly. They almost immediately began recognizing their keepers and eat out of their hands. Pesquet's, like most parrots, are monogamous: they couple for the entire life. Our new inhabitants are also inseparable. Where the male moves away suddenly, the female begins worrying and looking for him. So he tries not to leave her. The vulturine parrots’ appearance in the collection is an important event for us. Together with our colleagues from other zoos around the world, we will work to create a reserve population of these birds. We hope that one day our inhabitants will get offspring," the Moscow Zoo press service told.

Now, Red -List parrots can be seen in the ‘House of Birds’ pavilion. Most often they sit on branches, but have already begun exploring the world around them slowly and getting used to their new home. So, parrots confidently go down to the feeder and watch zoo visitors.

Birds are kept in conditions close to natural. The temperature in the aviary is plus 24 degrees, and high humidity is maintained here. Pesquet's parrots are very fastidious in their food. Their diet must include tropical fruit because they contain necessary enzymes for digestion. The menu for Metropolitan Zoo inhabitants consists of mangoes, tangerines, kiwis, grapes, pears, apples, peaches, lettuce and small honey portions. Birds' favorite treats are bananas and papaya.

Pesquet's parrots are endemic species of Papua New Guinea and Western New Guinea (Indonesia). They inhabit cloud jungles and foots of mountains. Birds prefer occupying tops of the tallest trees. They usually live in pairs or in small groups of up to 20 individuals.

The number of such rare species’ representatives in nature is steadily decreasing because of poaching and natural habitat destruction. According to ornithologists, there are only about 20 thousand ‘Dracula’ pairs in New Guinea currently.

Vulturine parrots are distinguished by their bright appearance. The neck, thorax, back and tail are covered with black-brown feathers. The lower abdomen part, as well as the wing-coverts, upper tail and middle flight feathers are red. Another species’ feature are bare sides on the head. Owing to no feathers around the nib, birds can eat fruit pulp without soiling themselves. Parrots’ body length reaches 50 cm. They weigh from 690 to 800 grams.

Moscow Zoo

Wild relatives of Moscow Zoo new residents feed on figs, mangoes, avocados, berries and seeds, as well as flowers and nectar of freycinetia, a tropical plant.

Pesquet's parrots have the mating season in April and May. Pairs build nests in hollows of large trees. There are usually two eggs in a clutch. Females incubate them for about 30 days, while the male takes care of his partner and brings her food.

In captivity, vulturine parrots can live for about 40 years.

The Moscow Zoo regularly adds to the collection, which already includes more than a thousand species of animals. In addition, the zoo is a permanent participant in international programs for the conservation of rare species of animals. In 2019, its collection was graced with a rare bird from tropical islands — Rothschild's Starling. According to ornithologists, the number of birds of this species in the wild does not exceed several dozen individuals. In addition, arrivals of golden lion-headed tamarins, maned wolf and bush dog have become long-awaited events of 2019.

Last year, rare blue-tailed monitors appeared in the exhibition for the first time in 50 years. They were brought from the Indonesian isle of Biak. And from April 2020, Cape ground squirrels can be seen at the Zoo for the first time. Since August, a manul cat has re-settled here. It has been the Metropolitan Zoo symbol and mascot for more than 30 years.

Source: mos.ru

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