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Push to keep chough conservation project going for longer

Push to keep chough conservation project going for longer

Monday 23 January 2023

Push to keep chough conservation project going for longer

Monday 23 January 2023

Durrell is 'chough-ed to bits' with the progress of its local project to bring a bird species back from the brink of extinction - and so is asking for permission for its aviary at Sorel to remain for another five years.

The conservation charity has looked after red-billed choughs at the enclosure in St. John since 2013.

The red-billed chough is widespread in mountain and coastal regions of Europe, North Africa and Asia and is classed as 'Least Concern'.

However, the population has become fragmented and in some areas the chough has completely disappeared.


Pictured: The aviary at Sorel, used to house the red-billed chough.

In the British Isles and Brittany, only 500 breeding pairs remain.

Jersey's population was wiped at the turn of the 20th century following the decline of the wool and knitting industries - as less sheep meant less grazed, marginal coastland and more bracken, which is unsuitable for the Chough. 

The Sorel-based aviary remains crucial to the ongoing success of the project.

While the initial release project has been completed, more releases are being planned that will address the sex ratio imbalances in the current flock, as there are more females and males, and will address genetic diversity by releasing unrelated choughs into the Jersey flock. 


Pictured: There are around 50 choughs in Jersey's free-living flock. 

The free-living choughs still continue to visit the Sorel aviary for supplementary food at least once a day and free entry into the aviary allows staff to closely monitor the wellbeing of the flock and administer veterinary treatment should it be required. 

The aviary is also a useful training tool, being used for courses at Durrell's Training Academy, to train visiting staff from overseas field programmes and as an educational resource for Key Stage 1 and 2 curriculums.  

If its application to the Planning Department is successful, Durrell will be able to keep using the aviary for a further five years until 1 February 2028.

Pictured top: Choughs and the Sorel aviary. (Jon Guegan)

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