Graceful birds: black stork chicks hatched at the Moscow Zoo

July 12
Parks and pedestrian areas

Black stork chicks hatched at the Moscow Zoo. The number of these graceful birds in the wild is steadily decreasing year after year. The black stork is listed in the Red Books of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and other countries.

Representatives of this species are very secretive, they nest far away from people in their natural environment. Therefore, the ornithologists of the Moscow Zoo had to make a lot of efforts to create comfortable conditions for them and ensure the appearance of healthy offspring. In the aviary of black storks, located near the exhibition “House of Birds”, wild grapes are planted, birds hide in their thickets from prying eyes. And yet, with loud noises or a large crowd of visitors at the Zoo, they can break eggs. Previously, ornithologists put dummy eggs in the nest, took the real ones to the incubator and returned them to their parents only when chicks were ready to hatch.

“By this year, our storks have gotten so comfortable that even the noise from the construction site does not bother them: the “Pinnipeds” pavilion is being erected next to their dwelling. Experts decided that the parents will cope with hatching themselves. In advance, they put a frame (post) for the nest and prepared branches in the aviary. The expectant mother and father built a nursery for their babies and then incubated eggs in turn. Ornithologists installed video cameras next to the nest and tirelessly watched the family. However, the fears were in vain: the storks were extremely careful guarding the eggs. Now they are taking care of two babies,” said Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo.

The chicks do not leave the nest yet. In clear weather, they love to bask in the sun, during precipitation, their parents cover them with their wings. The fact is that the little storks have just begun to shed, their bodies are still partially covered with soft white fluff. They will get wet quickly if exposed to rain. By adolescence, the chicks will be covered with brown feathers. Adult black plumage will be acquired by the end of the first year of life.

In order not to disturb the family for any reason, ornithologists leave food in the aviary and leave. Experts keep using video cameras to monitor the development of the chicks. While one parent is eating, the second is on duty in the nest.

Storks feed their offspring themselves. Their diet includes herring, insects and small rodents. At first, the fish was cut into small pieces since the chicks could not swallow the whole carcass. Now they have grown up and no cutting of herring is needed. One can admire the chicks by watching a short video on In the future, videos about them will be posted on the Zoo's social media.

All in all, five black storks live at the Moscow Zoo, including two chicks. When young chicks mature, they will move to Russian or foreign zoos, where they will form a reserve population of the species.

In nature, black storks live in Eurasia-from Spain to China. They migrate to South Africa and India in winter. Birds live in forests next to swamps and rivers, and make nests high up a tree. The population of black storks is declining due to the destruction of their natural habitat and illegal hunting. Birds have already disappeared in Scandinavia, and they are also becoming less common in India and China.

Black storks are large birds. The weight of a representative of this species can reach three kilograms, and the height is up to one meter. They are slightly smaller than their closest relatives — white storks. Birds have long limbs and long neck. Their entire body is covered with shiny black feathers having a purplish-green tint, except for white chest and abdomen. The beak is straight, pointed and bright red in color.

When hunting, they stand in water, spreading their wings above the water surface and looking for prey in the depths. Wild individuals eat frogs and fish. Crabs, rodents, smaller birds, snails and insects are good for them too.

They lead a lonely lifestyle. They unite with their relatives only during the breeding season and the migration period. Black storks have a large range of sound signals that they use to communicate with their own kind. For example, a sound similar to a loud exhalation warns the flock of danger.

In nature, black storks live for about 18 years, in captivity — up to 30 years.

And a Siberian white crane chick was recently born at the Center for Reproduction of Rare Animal Species of the Moscow Zoo located close to Volokolamsk. This crane species is endangered and is listed in the International Red Book and in the Red Book of Russia. Siberian white cranes are endemic to the northern regions of our country, i. e., they live in certain places. According to ornithologists, there are only about three thousand individuals in the wild.


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