Zoos Cooperate to Breed Australian Magpies

Four eggs from a pair of Australian magpies at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo traveled to the Toledo Zoo as part of a cooperative effort to raise chicks of this species, which is rare in zoos.  Three of the eggs hatched.

“These chicks are the first to be hatched at a North American zoo in many years,” says animal curator Mark Weldon.  Our pair is one of only three Australian magpie pairs living in North American zoos.

In the past, the zoo’s Australian magpie pair laid eggs, but did not successfully raise chicks.  By working with the Toledo Zoo and placing the eggs in their climate-controlled incubator, we were able to increase the odds of a successful hatch.

Upon hatching, Australian magpie chicks are blind and featherless.  After about two weeks, they open their eyes and begin to develop downy feathers.  They grow quickly:  at one month old, the chicks are nearly the same size as their parents!

Because the three Australian magpie eggs were hatched in an incubator, the chicks are being hand-fed by zoo keepers.  Once the chicks have fledged (left the nest), they will be placed at other zoos.  You can see the zoo’s magpies in the Australian Adventure when the zoo opens on April 20.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.