A pair of red-billed choughs (pron: chuffs) – a species once extinct in Devon – have returned to the county, more specifically a custom-built aviary here at Wildwood Devon. The birds will be contributing to an exciting conservation project between key conservation organisations including Wildwood Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust and Paradise Park.
The charismatic couple moved from their former home at Jersey Zoo to our park in Ottery St Mary in December, with aims to help restore the species to suitable habitat across the UK. Chicks reared here will hopefully join the chough restoration project in Kent, which is intended to return the birds to the area after a 200-year absence.
Laura Gardner is Director of Conservation at Wildwood: “The choughs received such a warm welcome at Wildwood Devon and we hope people will take joy in seeing this iconic and emblematic species back in the county.”
Red-billed choughs are a bird species belonging to the crow family. As the name suggests, the birds have a distinctive red beak and legs. Their downward curved beak is used to find insects in the soil and in the dung of grazing animals. Their Latin name Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax translates as flame raven and gave rise to the nickname ‘fire crow’.
The rarest member of the crow family, the red-billed chough is in decline in the UK, with an estimated population of fewer than 450 pairs, found only in West Wales, the Scottish isles, Ireland, Isle of Man and in Cornwall. Changes to farming practises, grazing regimes and historic persecution have caused this decline. The return of the twosome to Wildwood will allow visitors to learn more about the cultural and ecological significance of these beautiful red-billed birds.
You can visit the choughs at Wildwood Devon in Ottery St Mary. Learn more about the Wildwood Trust and Wildwood Devon here.