Zoo staff is hand-rearing the
chicks, which arrived from the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
as fertilized eggs; the chicks’ parents were not able to care
for the eggs. The Toledo Zoo has developed a hand-rearing
regimen for the species and will share this information with
other zoos that may need to hand-rear Australian magpie chicks.
The birds are common in
Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. “But Australian
magpies have rarely numbered more than 10 individuals in North
American zoos accredited by the AZA [Association of Zoos and
Aquariums],” Robert Webster, the Zoo’s curator of birds, said.
Currently a total of 11
individuals live at five North American AZA-accredited zoos,
including the Toledo Zoo.
Australian magpies are known for
their intelligence, striking black-and-white coloration, and
melodious songs which are particularly complex. New Zealand poet
Denis Glover, in his classic poem, The Magpies, described
their sound as, “quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle.” The birds
sing for as long as 70 minutes, just before dawn and again at
dusk, throughout the winter and spring.
When the Toledo Zoo’s Wild
Walkabout exhibit opens on May 24, visitors will see the
Australian magpie chicks at the award-winning Nature’s
Neighborhood children’s zoo.
“This is an unusual species of
bird for any zoo to have,” Robert Webster said, “and we’re
looking forward to sharing these animals with our visitors.”