Unique birth: extremely rare bird hatches in Polish Zoo

The Bali starling, one of the rarest birds on Earth, has hatched in the Zoological Garden in Plock, central Poland. According to its keepers, “it is slowly growing its feathers” and has a “ravenous appetite.”

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The size of the wild population of this endemic species is estimated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at about 50. The Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi) is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

“The Bali starling has hatched for the first time in the Plock zoo,” the institution reported in a Wednesday statement.

This endemic species comes from the island of Bali, a part of Indonesia in south-eastern Asia. According to the Płock Zoo, Its extinction has been caused by the destruction of its natural habitat combined with poaching for collecting purposes.

Jacek Jędrzejewski, head of the bird section at the Plock Zoo, said that Bali starlings had been living there since 2000. Initially there were only females, and then pairs, which, however, had never bred.

The couple who have just had their offspring is an 11-year-old male who came to the Płock zoo from the Alphen Zoo in 2012 and a 2-year-old female brought from the Rotterdam Zoo in 2020.

The Municipal Zoological Garden in Płock announced that the young starling “is slowly growing its feathers” and gobbles up insect delicacies brought alternately by both parents. According to the keepers, the chick has a “ravenous appetite.”

“The curse of Bali starlings is their unique beauty. The inhabitants of Southeast Asia believe this bird brings good luck and its singing wards of evil spirits,” the Płock zoo pointed out.

“Fortunately, active protection through breeding programmes has a positive effect on the number of this species,” it added.

These birds currently inhabit only the forests of Bali. They have white plumage with black wing-tips, a distinctive blue colour around the eyes and a comb of feathers on the head. They grow up to 25 centimetres in height and about 75 to over 100 grams in weight. They can sing, producing loud, piercing tones. They eat a variety of foods. In breeding conditions, these birds live for about 25 years.