Dedicated keepers at Paignton Zoo are hand-rearing two tiny African chicks. The snowy-crowned robin-chats are being fed every hour from 8am to 9pm. Keepers use a pair of tweezers to feed them papaya, earthworms and tiny pieces of meat.
The snowy-crowned robin-chat (Cossypha niveicapilla) is a member of the fly-catcher family. It’s found across large parts of Africa, where its natural habitats are tropical forests and savannah. In the wild it feeds on insects like spiders, caterpillars and centipedes.
Paignton Zoo curator of birds Jo Gregson told the Devon Week: “We hand-rear chicks for different reasons – sometimes they are abandoned by their parents, or they are so precious we step in just to make sure everything goes well. The aim with these is to build up numbers for future breeding. We do this on top of our normal duties – it makes for a long working day, but it’s worth it!”
The adults are great singers and are known to mimic other birds. They love to sing near running water, and are often set going by the sound of a hosepipe running.
(image: Keeper Lesley O’Connor feeds the snowy-crowned robin chat chicks.)