Minnesota Zoo bolsters bird habitat as escaped magpies still missing


Several dozen callers from the surrounding Twin Cities community informed zoo officials of sightings of three missing birds that escaped from the zoo’s tropical aviary in July, but unfortunately none of these reports came to fruition. , according to zoo officials.

Now they are taking preventative measures to make sure other tropical birds don’t get a chance to fly into the coop.

The zoo has removed all birds from the Tropics aviary and is “working to install secondary containment systems,” zoo spokesman Mike Stephenson said in an email.

Four female African long-tailed shrikes flew out of their Tropics aviary through an emergency exit door left open in the building, he said. Miraculously, a female shrike from the pack was later recovered and placed in quarantine.

Stephenson didn’t go into all the details of how the bird was found, but offered that “this individual has been returned to the Minnesota Zoo and is currently being held at our animal hospital for quarantine and evaluation.”

A team of veterinarians have examined the bird and continue to monitor the quarantined shrike. Each bird has leg bands used for identification.

The zoo last week asked the birding public to be on the lookout for the birds, also known as shrikes. The four birds were born at the zoo in 2015 and 2020.

Simone Maddox, a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, is an ornithologist who studies the differences between bird populations in urban and rural areas. She thinks they are nearby as the weather in the Twin Cities is still warm. In comparison, the temperature in the aviary was set between 78 and 80 degrees.

Maddox, who revealed she was no expert on African long-tailed shrikes, said “if it got colder it would push them south, but right now I don’t know if it’s even planned.”

She shoots for the birds but can’t say for sure what the future holds for the magpies. The birds were in captivity, which could impact their survival outside the zoo.

“They are used to following a specific diet. They might be tougher than the average wild bird out there.

Maddox’s fellow birders at the College of Biological Sciences are looking for the birds, but she thinks it will be a challenge to find them.

“If you’re a bird watcher it’s something to think about, but the chances of you seeing them are pretty low.”


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