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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rarest bird I've seen all year

Today I was able to see a bird that has a wild population of less than 300 birds, a pair of Waldrapp or Northern Bald Ibis. This isn't a North American bird, its a North African bird. Today I saw a pair when I took my kids to the Philadelphia Zoo. According to BirdLife International, there are an estimated 227 individuals in the wild, though there are over 1,000 in captivity.
This species has undergone a long-term decline and now has an extremely small range and population. Numbers are currently increasing, partly due to management actions and consequent improved breeding success. However, this improvement in its status in Morocco is very recent and the species may still be undergoing a continuing decline; in Syria its population appears to have declined dramatically in the past 20 years. The species is therefore retained as Critically Endangered because of its extremely small population undergoing continuing decline.
(Photo:RSPB).

While I prefer birding to looking at birds in the zoo, zoo's are great to get you close to some very unusual birds and other animals. Today we got to hear the howl of a Humboldt Penguin. My kids got to race back and forth with five giant otters. We watched an American Crocodile slowly exhale bubbles through its nose underwater, a very active beaded lizard stretch and display, and have a king cobra follow our moves through the glass of its cage, and interact with dozens of other species. I've never been so close to a two-toed sloth (two feet, with no intervening glass, I could have touched it!)

The Philadelphia Zoo is great in that it has displays that allow you to get very close to many animals, including within inches of great cats. A small group of us were gathered around a Mountain Lion today when all of a sudden it perked up and totally fixated on something outside of its cage. We turned around to see what it was looking at, and there was my two year old playing in the bushes twenty feet away. Wow! We'll have to watch her when we go camping out west!

2 comments:

Bird Advocate said...

I'll cross my fingers for the Northern Bald Ibis! Nice blog. :-)

syrian birdwatcher :) said...

interesting blog
the latest about the Northen Bald Ibis in Syria please check:
http://www.rspb.org.uk/tracking/northern_bald_ibis.asp
: )
syrian birdwatcher

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