Tropical bird with dog's habits: rare common trumpeter chick hatched in the Zoo

November 17, 2019
Parks and pedestrian areas

The Moscow Zoo has now a rare common trumpeter chick. This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened. This is the offspring of common trumpeters brought from South America a year ago. Representatives of this rare bird species lived in the Moscow Zoo more than 50 years ago.

'It took a long time for the one-year-old male and female to get used to the new conditions, the enclosure and the zookeepers attending them. To avoid disturbing the birds, ornithologists had to tip-toe around their enclosure very slowly, as any strange sound could make trumpeters panic and rush around the enclosure, flapping their wings. It took several months, and a lot of our specialists' patience, to make birds settle in their new home and stop feeling anxious. Gradually, they got used to each other and became a couple. Their chick’s hatching was a big and joyful event for us. We hope that this bird family will be bringing the young regularly,' said Svetlana Akulova, Director General of the Moscow Zoo.

Common trumpeter males and females do not always accept each other. Sometimes it is difficult for ornithologists to make a good couple of them, as trumpeters are susceptible to external stimuli and stresses.

In summer, during the mating season, visitors to the Moscow Zoo could watch the trumpeters dance. The male and female tailed each other and 'talked' — exchanged specific soft, drum-like sounds.

According to Svetlana Akulova, the common trumpeters brought to the Moscow Zoo are very young, and they have never had offspring before. Lacking parental experience, the birds were restless while hatching the egg, so ornithologists had to take it away and place it in a special incubator, so that the birds did not break it. Experts kept on watching it until the chick hatched. Its birth weight did not exceed 75 g.

'From its first days of life, the chick was agile, curious and fearless. It got used to the zookeepers at once, recognized them and followed them around, quickly running on its long legs. If a worker squatted down, the tiny chick immediately climbed into his lap, and up on his shoulder, the chick's favourite place to have a nap,' said Director General of the Zoo.

The common trumpeter chick is already a month old. Its weight has increased to 411 g, growing day by day. The bird feeds on a mixture of vegetables and herbs, crickets, eggs, fruit and cereals, as well as the necessary mineral supplements. Visitors to the Moscow Zoo can admire the growing trumpeter in the right wing of the Bird House pavilion, in the enclosure adjacent to cassowaries and toucans. When the chick is strong enough and finally settled down, it will be moved to its parents.

Wild common trumpeters are usually found in Guyana and neighbouring countries. They live in large flocks of 5 to 30 individuals and nest on the ground. Their nests look like small depressions that females dig out before laying eggs. But they spend the night high in the trees.

There is a strict hierarchy in trumpeter groups. The dominant bird requires submission from its relatives, who express it by crouching and spreading their wings. As a rule, group members feed the leader, setting out for food at its first cry. During the mating season, the leading female may accept the courtship of several males. Representatives of this species take care of a chick all together, so it is always surrounded with older relatives' care. The natural bird population is declining annually due to deforestation and illegal hunting.

Tamed common trumpeters usually grow deeply attached to men, with their disposition and habits being dog-like: they follow orders and defend the territory from outsiders, whether they are other birds, animals or people. The people of South America often keep these birds as pets.

55 cm long trumpeters usually weigh about 2 kg. The plumage is mostly purplish black, lower back and wing feathers are grey-white and reddish, with several rows of short purple and blue feathers on the neck looking like a kind of decoration. These birds have thin long legs and short fingers with sharp claws. When in danger, trumpeters make short shrill cries that can be heard a few kilometres away, instead of regular drum-like sounds.

During the warm season, more than 150 young were born in the Zoo. Among them are East Siberian lynx, Dagestan tours, markhoors, red and pink flamingos, and representatives of other rare species. Birds living in the new Zoo part next to the Birds and Butterflies pavilion had an addition, too. So, a couple of Dalmatian pelicans hatched two chicks. White pelicans had one chick.

The Moscow Zoo regularly adds new species to its collection that already boasts over 1,000 animal species. An aardvark and three couples of gentoo penguins arrived in 2017. In 2018, it received two Amur tigers, an Amur leopard, crested curassow and common trumpeter. In 2019, the Zoo acquired a Poitou donkey, a knob-scale lizard, white-faced sakis and binturongs, a rare male maned wolf and three female Bali starlings. The Moscow Zoo is a regular participant of international rare animals conservation programs.



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