Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Watch the Birdy

Some more pictures today from our visit to the Durrell Zoo on Jersey last year. This time some of the birds to be found there. To begin with, a tall and stately bird called a Sarus Crane (Grus antigone antigone).
The Sarus Crane is from India, South-East Asia and Australia and is classed as a 'vulnerable' species. Inhabiting wetlands and marshes, they stand a good 6' tall and as such are the world's tallest flying birds. Their numbers have declined drastically over the past hundred years or so. Some reports put their population at only 2.5% of their numbers in the 1850's.
The name 'Sarus' comes from the Hindi name for the crane which in turn comes from the ancient Sanskrit word 'sarasa', meaning Lake Bird. Sarus Cranes are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, from insects, crustaceans and fish, to aquatic plants, seeds and roots.
A second Crane now, the Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum).
These are not so endangered as the Sarus Crane and come from continental Africa, living in dryer areas of savannah, south of the Sahara. About half the height of the Sarus Crane, they eat much the same types of things. Despite it's being classed as 'of least concern', they are nonetheless, under threat from drainage of their wetland breeding grounds and overgrazing, as well as insecticide usage.
A much smaller bird to end with. A Java Sparrow (Padda oryzivora).
Again, described as 'vulnerable', their natural habitat in Java, Bali and parts of Indonesia is being eroded by agricultural use. As the Sparrows eat seeds, there is a conflict of interest between farmer and bird - as in all cases such as this, the bird comes off worse. It's scientific name 'Padda' is a reference to it's liking for rice - or Paddy - fields.
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