March 1, 2016
Call of the Capercaillie
- as seen by -David Oehler
Most of us have just survived another winter, digging through the snow, bracing ourselves against bitterly cold wind, and watching the sun disappear too soon each evening. Spring will bring relief to all with warmer weather, trees leafing out, and ever longer days. If you are as impatient as I am, swing by the World of Birds at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, where springtime arrives early. As you walk through the exhibit, you will hear melodious and wonderful bird calls. It is time to celebrate.
The Bronx Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to maintain Western capercaillie, Tetrao urogallus, and propagate them for several years. These large, forest dwelling birds join us in delighting in spring, and you can hear the male calling the female birds he is trying to impress.
In the conifer forests of northern Europe into Asia, the male capercaillie raises his head, holds out his feathered beard, and begins to call to his potential mate (above). He fans out his tail and drops his wings to show off his white wing patch – dramatic courtship display from a bird that can be seen right here in New York. WCS staff videographer Jeff Morey caught the moment on this video.
Celebrate the coming of spring at the Bronx Zoo to learn more about these birds and how you can help protect the habitats of animals around the globe.