Rare bird from tropical islands: Moscow Zoo has now Bali starling

October 28, 2019
Parks and pedestrian areas

A three year-old female Bali starling have arrived at the Moscow Zoo. The species is in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as endangered. According to ornithologists, there are no more than several dozen Bali starlings in the wild.

The birds arrived in Moscow from the Warsaw Zoo as part of the European Bali starling conservation and captive breeding programme. No Russian Zoo has had these exotic birds before.

'We have never had Bali starling in our collection. Their arrival is a long-awaited event. One bird is already settling in a cosy aviary in the Moscow Zoo's Bird House. Two more birds live now in our Rare Species Reproduction Centre near Volokolamsk. Besides, soon we are going to have three male Bali starlings from Copenhagen Zoo to make couples with our female birds to have offspring. Visitors will find one couple at the Bird House. They may watch their courtship and chicks' breeding,' said Svetlana Akulova, Director General of the Moscow Zoo.

Bali starlings feel well after the trip. During a month-long quarantine in Moscow, they have fully adapted to the new conditions and got used to zookeepers caring for them. Birds feed on insects and mixed tropical fruits.

One of the three birds that have arrived in Moscow will live in the Zoo, on the second floor of the Bird House, neighbouring with parrots and other tropical bird species. Soon, a Bali starling male is to settle nearby. The bird is very active during the day and often flies around. Two more female Bali starlings will live in the Rare Species Reproduction Centre near Volokolamsk.

Bali starling has an outstanding appearance. It has white plumage except for the black tail and the wing tips. The skin around the eyes is rich blue and looks like a mask. A bird has an elegant crest on the head, going up if a bird is interested or alarmed. During courtship, males fluff up their tail and raise their crest to be nearly vertical, in order to attract a mate.

With the arrival of rare male Bali starlings, the Zoo aviaries are to provide all the necessary conditions for reproduction, the same as in the tropics: it should be humid, and the temperature cannot fall below +25°C. As a rule, these starlings breed well in captivity and can bear offspring one to four times a year.

Bali starling (or Bali mynah) is the rarest representative of the starling family, and one of the rarest birds in the world. In the wild, it can be found in the north-west of Bali and north-east of Java. The birds prefer nesting in forests, bushes and mangroves. The species was first mentioned in 1911, when its population was still stable. Unfortunately, due to active deforestation, poaching and pollution, the number of Bali starlings has decreased so much that by the beginning of this century the species was on the verge of extinction.

In the late 1970s, there was a National Park established in the Bali starling nesting sites, with the birds supervised by specialists. Ornithologists also launched activities to restore the population, raising starlings in captivity and then releasing them into the wild, which helped to increase the number of these rare birds. Today’s zoos contribute to preservation of the species, too. Bali starlings live in the biggest zoos in Europe, America and Asia, including Berlin, Vienna, Cologne, as well as in Prague, Toledo, Hong Kong and several other zoo gardens.

The Moscow Zoo constantly replenishes its collection, which currently boasts more than a thousand species. An aardvark and three couples of Papuan penguins appeared there in 2017. In 2018, the Moscow Zoo received two Amur tigersan Amur leopard cat, a secretary bird, crested curassows and trumpeters. In 2019, the Zoo will have a Poitou donkey, a knob-scale lizard or xenosauridae, white-faced sakis and binturongs, and a rare male maned wolf . The Moscow Zoo is a permanent participant of international rare animals conservation programs.

Source: mos.ru

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