Dover Castle has become home to four juvenile red-billed choughs, a rare member of the crow family which has returned to the White Cliffs of Dover for the first time in centuries thanks to a conservation project.
The new residents are now living in a specially built aviary which was unveiled at Dover Castle last week. Red-billed choughs are identified by their glossy black plumage, red legs and a distinctive bright red beak.
The red-billed choughs living in the aviary hatched earlier this year at British wildlife conservation charity, Wildwood Trust, in nearby Herne Bay in a breeding programme to help reverse the falling population across the UK.
Wildwood Trust is working with Kent Wildlife Trust, English Heritage and a number of other organisations to re-introduce the iconic species back to the Kent coastline. It is understood that the four juvenile red-billed choughs, currently housed at the aviary at Dover Castle, will be reintroduced into the wild in Kent next year.
Kent Wildlife Trust said: “This aviary is the first step in the vision to reintroduce choughs to Kent. Dover’s chalk grasslands and white cliffs provide nest sites and rich diversity of insects on which choughs feed. We want to create a Wilder Kent by restoring this charismatic but threatened bird, with its glossy black plumage, red legs and bright red beak.”
Choughs became extinct in Kent more than 200 years ago due to changing farming practices and persecution, leading to widespread extinction with only small populations surviving in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Image Credit: Kent Wildlife Trust/English Heritage/Wildwood Trust
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living