One of the smallest bird populations in the world has just increased thanks to a recent hatch at Lincoln Park Zoo. I’m happy to announce that three Bali mynah chicks are growing behind the scenes at the McCormick Bird House.
Two Bali mynah chicks poke their heads out of the nest at the McCormick Bird House.
These new arrivals bring with them hope for the conservation of their species. Bali mynahs are nearly extinct in their native Indonesia, their population decimated by poaching for the illegal pet trade.
During my tenure as Lincoln Park Zoo’s curator of birds, I was very involved with the Bali mynah conservation effort. I traveled to Indonesia every year for a number of years during the 1980s–1990s to release birds to the wild. By the early part of that decade, though, wild numbers hovered around 15 birds. Efforts to introduce Bali mynahs into other select habitats in Indonesia are still being tried at this time.
The bulk of the still-small surviving population lives in zoos, however. North America zoos work together to grow this critically endangered population through the Bali Mynah Species Survival Plan® (SSP).
Lincoln Park Zoo plays a special role in this conservation effort. Steve Thompson, Ph.D., maintains the species’ studbook. This living lineage collects family trees for every bird in the population, letting population planners make the best matches to maintain genetic diversity. Vice President of Animal Care, Megan Ross, Ph.D., is species coordinator, helping zoos throughout the country coordinate new pairings to keep the population healthy.
It was an SSP recommendation—bringing a female Bali mynah from Houston Zoo to pair with our resident male—that resulted in these three new chicks. The expert care from our top-notch bird staff played a key part in the success as well.
While Lincoln Park Zoo has produced 31 Bali mynahs since 1972, these new arrivals are the first successful hatches and fledges at the zoo in 12 years. We’re very happy to welcome them, both as vibrant new arrivals and an important reminder of how zoos can work together to save species.