Little black storks have hatched

09.06.2016

We have three little black storks! One egg was sat on by its parents, while the other two were incubated. The first chick is living with its parents now (you can find them in the Old territory), and zoo keepers are taking care of the rest.

Black storks are listed in the Russian Red Book. In the wild those birds tend to keep to themselves, so people don’t see them as often as white storks.

For a long time black storks have never bred in Moscow zoo. We have a pair of high genetic value — the male was caught in the wild, the female has come from Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park. They’ve coupled pretty fast but have never hatched before. We know that black storks are very nervous and prone to stress. Unlike white storks, who tolerate people well, black storks tend to nest in secluded parts of forest, as far away from humans as possible. For a few years our storks have laid infertile eggs, then they broke them. But after a while they «came to senses» and decided to finally become parents. However, nothing can be done overnight. In 2014 they laid eggs too early — it was so cold we had to take the eggs away and put them to an incubator. In 2015, however, they had two clutches! The first was taken away for hand-rearing, and the parents were left with a second one. Unfortunately, when the chicks have hatched, weather has changed, temperature has fallen significantly, showers have started. The parents left for the inside enclosure, and the chicks have frozen to death. Luckily, our specialists have reared three chicks from the first clutch.

This year our black storks had three chicks, and our ornithologists have decided to run a experiment: they left one chick with its parents and took away the other two. At the moment the chicks are several weeks old, they’re nice and cute, covered with white floccus. They spend their time in a box together with a soft toy and a warmer — when they want to take a nap they cling to this toy or even hide under it. We feed them with minced fish or small bites of baltic herring and smelt together with some vitamins and enzymes. From time to time they get insects and small mice. They’re so clever they feed themselves
from the very beginning. When they just hatched, we had to blend the food and feed them quite often, but now they eat just four times a day and don’t need our help. Little storks live in harmony and, unlike little cranes, never fight. We feed them separately — each one has its own small plate. Every day we weigh them to see how fast they grow.

Storks develop quite slowly — usually chicks spend no less than two months in their nest, so it will go on like this till the midsummer. Our adult storks prefer to stay away from people, while the little ones like their keepers. Last year birds are all grown up now, and they tolerate people well, too.