The two zoos in Berlin have impressive numbers of species that are either rarely shown in zoos, or of which only one of several subspecies is usually kept. Takins are one example, cranes are another that I will have to post about one day. Over the course of the last two decades efforts have been made to at least reduce the number of species kept at both zoos, to reduce cost and free up space for other animals. Still, especially the aviaries are lavishly stocked, with birds that I have not consciously seen elsewhere. That includes the kagus, but also the species I will show below, as well as another really cool bird that I’ll post next week.
Here’s a denizen I found when I detoured from my usual, children-determined route through Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, one with a very impressive beak:
Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis), watching me closely. Now, you might be tempted to think that the bird was wary of the huge human sticking a black object close to the mesh wire. And you’d be totally wrong. I know exactly what went through that bird’s mind the second I took this picture: “If he keeps the camera this close to the mesh and looks away for a second I’m gonna have a bite of the lens!”
All caracaras, including the Falkland-dwelling Striated caracara, are extremely inquisitive, almost entirely blasé with regards to humans, or worse quite intent on getting hold of anything colourful (preferably red) you wear.
Badass bird is watching you. If only we could get the occasional non-avian theropod reconstruction with this feel!
By the way, the main reason why I couldn’t get decent photos of these guys is that one was always strutting around really close to where I was, so any time I put the camera up to the mesh to shoot through one of the mesh loops, all I got was a big beak rapidly approaching me. Charles Darwin nicely described the tameness and very inquisitive behaviour of the local caracaras, as well as their opportunistic feeding habits. I felt reminded to a TV show I saw very long ago about a team out to film wild keas, which featured at length all the mischief those big parrots managed to create on, around and inside the offorad-capable camping bus the TV people had brought. Rear reflectors on little metal holders sticking down? Bend them and gleefully enjoy the whrrrrr-sound they make as they flip back when you let go. Or run around the roof with your beak on the metal, and you will create a wonderful screeching noise that can be heard all across the valley. Windshield wipers? Window rubber seal? Spare tire? It all comes off if you only pull hard enough…… OK, the tire defeated the kea’s, but only as far as ripping it off goes. The parrots won with regards to structural integrity!
And the caracaras had a very similar look and feel – a bird that instinctively knows that nobody can really threaten it, and that anything out there may be interesting – as food or as diversion. Or both……… Even the resting bird was clearly looking for trouble!