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The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 3.


We continue our coverage of the real truth about the Corvid 19 with a move to the Indo-Chinese area, and more specifically in this case, Java.

We have looked at some well-known Corvids so far, but now we look at a little known one, uncharacteristically gaily coloured, so that one might think of a finch or other class of bird, but this is indeed a crow family member.

Unfortunately this particular one, the Javan green mapgpie, is highly endangered, with only 50 left in captivity, and none sighted of late in the wild.

 

Thanks for Vaclav Silha for this CC4.0 licensed image of the Corvid in Prague Zoo, part of an approved breeding programme aimed at keeping the species alive.

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Javan Green Magpie
Other names Ekek geling Jawa (local name)
German Gruenelster
French Pirolle à queue courte
Russian Цисса
Polish Kitta zielona jawańska
Scientific Name Cissa thalassina
Number of species in the genus 4
Number of subspecies in this species 0
Literal meaning of Scientific name Jay of the sea
Described by Temminck, 1826
First attested in literature Temminck, 1826
Wingspan (cm) 40
Length bill to tail (cm) 30
Distribution Very limited locations in Java, if at all.
Remarks This is one of four species of Cissa, or green magpies. As we saw in the case of the blue-jay, the word in Greek for jay was kitta, but another version ‘kissa’ also existed at certain periods of the language, and this is the form that gives this genus its name, although Polish retains the other Greek spelling for their version of the common name.  Unfortunately many of these beautiful birds are nearly extinct, and only 50 individuals of this bird at the most are thought to exist,  possibly none in the wild, with the remaining hope resting with breeding programs in captivity.  Their diet is fully carnivorous, with a large proportion of insects, and the protein lutein which gives them their green pigment cannot be produced if this element of their diet is missing, and the birds retain their initial blue plumage.
Migrations Not migratory
Sexual dimorphism Barley distinguishable. Juveniles have a more bluish tint and their beak only reddens on maturity.
Close relatives The other three Cissa species are Cissa chinensis, the common green magpie, with 5 subspecies, the Bornean green magpie (also known as the sort tailed green magpie) C. jeffreyi, and the Indochinese green magpie, C. hypoleuca, which is in fact blue rather than green,  but gets called “green magpie” because it is in the Green Magpie family, in much the same way as a person with the name “William Brown” would not need necessarily to wear or be that colour.
Not close relatives thought to be close It’s a rather disctinctive bird, so it is not really mistaken for unrelated species. Some confusion exists between this species and the short-tailed green magpie, which is closely related, but not a subspecies as first thought. In some sources the two species are still treated that way.
Cultural significance Despite their ornate and iconic appearance, little use has been made of these green magpies in terms of mascots and heraldry. The song of the Javan green magpie was considered one reason for its ravages into the pet trade, a main reason along with habitat destruction, for its current critically endangered status.

 

 

The truth about the Corvid-19 and what you need to know – part 2.


We continue our coverage of the real truth about the Corvid 19 with a move to the Eurasian continent.

You’ll be chuffed to know that another iconic corvid is the subject of today’s article, and which one it is, as well as the way of pronunciation, is hinted at in this very sentence.

In English the -ugh- cluster has a large number of pronunciations, from “ug” in the case of the exclamation “Ugh!”, to “af” in the case of “laughter”, “laughing”, or “uf” in “enough”, or “tough” or “of” in “cough”, just “ow” in “bough” or “o” in the topical “furlough” or “dough”, so it is well worth commenting on the actual pronunciation of this Corvid’s name.

Let it be enough to say that chough is spoken as “chuff” and tough on all the other alternatives.

And we are going to look at the more common of the two choughs, rather than the Alpine one, which you are less likely to see in the wild, but more likely to see in an aviary.

 

Attribution: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Dibyendu_Ash (CC 3.0)

We are presenting the info for each Corvid in a similar tabular form and there will be a publication available at the end of the series where you will be able to get hold of the combined table.

Common Name Chough
Other names Red-billed chough, Cornish chough
German Alpenkraeher (note Alpine chough is “Alpendohle” in German)
French Crave à bec rouge
Russian Клушица, Клуша
Polish Wrończyk
Scientific Name Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Number of species in the genus 2
Number of subspecies in this species 8
Literal meaning of Scientific name Flame-raven
Described by Linnaeus, 1758
First attested in literature Homer, Arthurian legend, many others
Wingspan (cm) 90
Length bill to tail (cm) 40
Distribution Especially cliffs and rocky areas from Ireland to China, absent in much of the range.
Remarks Feeds in flocks on grassland taking invertebrate prey. Therefore a useful bird for agriculture but was often regarded as a nuisance for thieving like magpies and also for setting light to houses (which obviously they could not do, but such was the superstition, not helped by the scientific name). Also not helped by modern farming methods, has become vulnerable in Europe, but gradually returning to South West England. The range of vocalisations is limited.
Migrations Not migratory
Sexual dimorphism Male slightly larger
Close relatives Alpine chough, P. graculus, a similar bird with a range restricted to high altitude areas, overlaps with the range of the red-billed chough but is much smaller and in different places without a continued representation. A fossil ancestor P. primigenius has been discovered in France.
Not close relatives thought to be close White winged chough of Australia (not a Corvid but a Corcoracid)
Cultural significance High in Europe and Central Asia since classical times, mentioned in the Odessey as a dweller in Calypso’s island. Also linked to St Thomas a Beckett. Due to the association with King Arthur, whose soul is supposed to have turned into one of them, is a common feature of Cornish folklore and heraldry.

 

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