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Blue-crowned laughing thrush
This beautiful species of perching bird is threatened in its native China, because of deforestation and capture by poachers for the exotic bird trade. Durrell has kept blue-crowned laughing thrushes since mid 1997, but they are very nervous during the breeding season, so breeding progress has been relatively slow. Bird staff succeeded in stimulating nesting behaviour for the first time in 2000, and the first chick was parent reared the following year. In 2002 5 chicks were hand reared by bird staff, and it is hoped that birds will be sent to other bird parks and institutions throughout Europe to breed and make their own valuable contribution to the captive ‘safety-net’ population.
The species is not well represented in zoos and relatively little is known about its biology. The birds at Durrell were originally thought to be the closely related yellow-throated laughing thrush, but have recently been recognised as members of a new separate species. A member of Durrell's bird staff has visited China to help with field work on the species.