The new future for breeding The Javan Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina)
The Javan Green magpie is a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED bird, endemic to West Java, which is quite unknown. Few are known on its biology as this species is now difficult to find on the wild. This carnivorous and secretive bird is an inhabitant from deep and evergreen forests and it is thought that the species will be extinct in a couple of years, due to intensive trapping. Unfortunately, this species receives no protection measures which increase the risk and the speed of its coming extinction.
Two conservation projects are currently carried out: a breeding program in CCBC and a survey in search of remaining wild populations (under progress with the kind help of YPAL).
CCBC started a breeding programme for the Javan Green Magpie in 2011 with individuals acquired in bird markets. Even if this species is very difficult to breed in captivity, CCBC has successful breeding recorded every year. All pairs are recorded by CCTV to ensure that the breeding will go smoothly as the parents are prone to cannibalism towards their own chicks, if they feel unsecure or disturbed. The juveniles in captivity have their first plumage blue but will turn green after the first moulting with the help of adequate food items and pigment supplementation. Indeed, it has been proved that the green colour is of great important for mating choice, egg quality and, consequently, successful breeding.
Last October 2015, 12 individuals were sent to Europe to create a new population of Javan Green Magpie and spread the risk of having a single population in captivity. This new European population will be managed under the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquarium) via a regional studbook and the pairing and breeding recommendations will be strongly monitored to ensure the survival of the species in captivity and their genetic integrity. Recently, CCBC has 18 individuals, including 6 breeding pairs.
Asep, Bird Keeper
Several studies were performed to better understand the biology of the species, especially on vocalizations.
Study on the vocalization of the Javan green magpie (Cissa thalassina) – April 2013
This species shows no sexual dimorphism and a deep study of the different calls of the male and the female could be a way to determine sex. The study performed at Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre tried to determine the whole vocal repertoire of the Javan Green magpie to highlight sexual differences and also to understand the meaning of each call (territory call, alarm/distress call…). It is worth noting that the vocalizations of magpie species are quite complex, with lots of different vocalizations that some of them were learnt by imitation.
Eleven individuals housed at Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre in West Java, Indonesia, were recorded during 14 days (i.e. 11 hours of recording). In total, 38 different vocalizations were found. Among these vocalizations, 8 are shared by both the male and the female while 19 calls are specific to the males and 11 calls are specific to the females. Nevertheless, some calls seem to be the results of individual variations, specific environmental conditions or imitations. Consequently, they cannot be used as sex determination. After highlighting these different calls, only 5 male calls and 6 female calls seem to be inherent to the sex and can finally be used as sex determination.
Moreover, some meaning of the vocalizations can be found even if lots of them remain unclear. 7 calls (4 from the female, 3 from the male) can be considered as alarm or distress call. Indeed, all of them are quite loud and can be used to repeal potential intruders. They were all recorded when a disturbance was made in the environment such as keeper coming, unusual bird calls or motorcycle sound. One male call could be territorial as it was always recorded during the early morning (when birds usually start to reaffirm their territory) and answered by another male in an adjacent building. Finally, two calls (1 from the male, 1 from the female) were recorded when the keeper arrives in the building to feed them and could be interpreted as “food anticipation”.