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.

Wednesday 25 April 2018


The short-tailed Javan green magpie is one of the world’s rarest


Prague is known for its puppets, and many people who live here get a bit jaded at seeing them all the time. But the puppets are doing some good. Prague Zoo is using a hand puppet to help save the short-tailed Javan green magpie, one of the rarest and most critically endangered birds in the world.

The brightly colored bird is a member of the Corvus family, which includes crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, jays, treepies, choughs, and nutcrackers.

"In the Corvus birds, including magpies, there is so-called imprinting. Artificial breeding would imprint a person’s traits on a juvenile bird and it would be lost for the next breeding,” Prague Zoo bird breeder Antonín Vaidl said in a press release. "When using a puppet to imitate an adult bird, there is no such impression [of a person], and it can be bred with the right habits.”

The hand puppet does not have to be a faithful copy of an adult magpie, but it must have the key signs the youngsters react to such as a distinct red beak and black eyes on a bright green background.

The Javan green magpie was hatched in an incubator last month and is being kept in a special box. The magpies that laid the egg had already thrown one egg out of their nest, so zookeepers decided to take the other and hatch it artificially, as each birth helps to protect the species.

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