As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 9 October 2016

A cracking surprise! Four rare Javan GREEN magpies hatch at Chester Zoo

A clutch of Javan green magpie eggs hatched at Chester Zoo this summer
Javan Green Magpie (Short-tailed Magpie): The birds are extremely rare, with few seen in the wild in southeast Asia
Conservationists at the zoo are part of an international effort to save them

By Ryan O'Hare for MailOnline

Published: 17:47, 4 October 2016 | Updated: 17:48, 4 October 2016

For the first time , four of the world's rarest magpie have been born at a UK zoo.

The first Javan green magpie chick hatched at Chester Zoo on 13th June and the last of the four was born on 15th August.

Since then, the striking birds have remained safely tucked away with their parents.

With stunning green, red and black plumage, the Javan green magpie is one of nature's most eye-catching species.

The birds are listed as critically endangered, with few sightings in their southeast Asian habitat.

Bird experts warn the situation may have worsened recently and that the magpies could be close to extinction in the wild.

The birds have been losing the battle, as their forest habitat is destroyed to make way for agricultural land.

As one of the most endangered birds on the planet, the rare chicks have provided a major boost to conservation efforts to save the magpies from extinction.

Conservationists and bird staff at Chester Zoo are making every effort to try and save the species, which has been targeted by the illegal bird trade in its native Indonesian forests.

Andrew Owen, the curator of birds at Chester Zoo, said: '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.'

The Javan green magpie is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Bird experts have warned that the situation may have worsened in recent months, with no recent sightings reported, stoking fears the striking birds may be close to extinction in the wild.

But now, the breeding of the four new chicks in Chester has given a huge lift to conservation efforts to save the magpies.

Andrew says: '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.'

The arrival of the four chicks brings the total number of Javan green magpies at Chester Zoo to 11, while the Cikananga Conservation Breeding Center currently has 19 birds, all under the care of Chester Zoo staff and local Indonesian experts. 

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