A Rare Home for a Rare Raptor
The Zoo’s aviary for our Steller’s Sea-Eagle and birds of Far East Russia is a home like no other. Most of us dream of a home with a stream and waterfall, but for the birds, their new aviary offers both of these luxuries plus other important features tailor-made for these very rare and magnificent raptors.
The aviary is part of the Zoo’s award-winning Glacier Run exhibit. Known to have wingspans of up to eight feet, the spectacular Steller’s sea-eagle requires a vast amount of space. The species is vulnerable to extinction with about 4,000 birds in the wild.
Steller’s sea-eagles are native to Eastern Russia, so the Zoo’s new aviary was styled after a Russian evergreen forest. Here are some of the things guests will see when they step into the aviary:
- A male Steller’s sea-eagle named Piotr. He arrived from the San Diego Zoo in December 2012.
- The aviary is more than 50 feet tall and features a stream and waterfall
- An artificial pine tree extends to the top of the exhibit plus tree limbs that will encourage the birds to fly from level to level
- Azure-winged magpie, red-breasted geese and mandarin ducks which will also share the same space
- A thin mesh separates the magpie, geese and ducks from the eagles but allows the birds to see into the eagle’s home. Several small openings in the mesh divider also allow them to crossover and explore the sea-eagle’s habitat
Meet the Neighbors
Inhabitants of the same harsh Far East regions as the Steller’s sea-eagles, the azure-winged magpie, the mandarin duck and red-breasted goose will live in the same aviary.
The red-breasted goose is easily identified by its black head and back flanks of white feathers and bold chestnut-red breast. Recent declines in its population have placed the species on the precautionary endangered species list. Because it’s in danger of extinction, your Zoo will make every effort to breed this species.
One might say the red-breasted goose is quite the traveler. It is known for breeding in Arctic Europe, wintering in southeastern Europe and occasionally visiting Great Britain and other western European regions.
The goose is an herbivore, which means it feasts on grasses and herbs. Its vegetarian diet keeps it svelte with the female averaging 2.5 pounds and the male weighing between 2.9 and 3.5 pounds.
The saying, “birds of a feather flock together,” is certainly true of the azure-winged magpie. These attractive birds are known for roaming, migrating and living in groups. They even take the neighborly approach to helping other magpies raise their young. A female magpie can lay up to nine eggs at once needing a village to help care for that many new fledglings.
A member of the crow family, the name “azure-winged” derives from the light blue azure-colored feathers on its tails and wings. It has a variety of calls including whistles and trills that allow members of the group to stay connected. While it normally feasts on acorns and nuts, it supplements its diet with soft fruits and berries, small insects and their larvae.
The magpie is rare in managed environments. The Zoo will make every effort to breed the magpie as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums management program.
The drake (male) mandarin duck is striking in appearance and one of the most beautiful ducks in the world. With its glossy green forehead, green-bronze crest feathers, a bronze colored face with white streaks above the eye, a bright red bill and an iridescent maroon colored breast, it is considered a highly ornamental species. Males when not in breeding plumage retain dull grey feathers much like the hens.
Mandarin ducks are native to eastern Asia and can be found year-round in Japan and Taiwan, with their summer range extending to include eastern Russia and Mongolia. In winter, migratory populations can be found in eastern China. These birds have been widely imported around the world so it is entirely possible you may have seen one in your travels.
Please note that the species configuration can change at any time without notice to accommodate weather, new species introductions, feeding schedules and locations, breeding, training and so on.