Weiherburggasse 32 a
, A-6020 Innsbruck
Phone: 0043-0512-29 23 23
Fax: 29 30 89
aviary, bird, cliffs, river bank, walk-trough exhibit, Waldrapp
|Emberizidae||Emberiza cia||Rock Bunting||2|
|Threskiornithidae||Geronticus eremita||Northern Bald Ibis||30|
|Upupidae||Upupa epops||European Hoopoe||2|
In the Middle Ages the northern bald ibis inhabited broad river valleys and open grasslands in the Alps. For breeding sites, the birds used natural high cliffs which were often within or close to human settlements. The northern bald ibis disappeared rapidly in the 16th century due to hunting, disturbance, and perhaps a change in climate.
The northern bald ibis aviary is rounded and exposed to the south-east. The northern wall is concrete. Two hedges on the east side (one inside the animal area and one in the visitor area) offer protection from visitors, hiding places for smaller birds, may even provide nest sites. As the aviary is mainly facing south, the ibis can be kept outdoors, even during the cold winter. Crucial to the birds' warmth in winter is that the first morning sun reaches the wall at the back, to heat up the sleeping places, even when the glass roof is covered by snow.
The northern bald ibis is presented in the natural habitat it probably used when it still lived in the Alps. Overall, the aviary resembles a dry river bank delineated by high cliffs. The ground is covered by gravel and sand. This substrate is nearly 70 cm thick to keep the surface dry even during long periods of rain.
The cliffs and riverbank are made of concrete that contains three different types and sizes of gravel, to create a very natural image and highlight the layering affect of a riverbank. The material is sold under the name of "Creative Concrete" and was developed by Tierpark Goldau in Switzerland. Two ledges at different heights provide nest sites. One quarter of the roof is covered by glass to keep the nest sites and sleeping places dry. Also, the feeding site is sheltered against rain and snow and can be heated during winter. The visitors within the aviary are kept to a broad path. There is no fence between the visitors and the birds but the ground level of the area dedicated to the birds is 0,4 m higher than the visitor's path so that visitors are prevented from entering the animal area.
The aviary covers 300 square meters. The indoor section is divided into two small rooms dedicated to small passerines (1-2 species) as an exclusive withdrawal and one keeper's storage room.
Space allocation in square meters:
|use||indoors||outdoors|| total exhibit |
|accessible|| total ||accessible|| total |
Euro 500,000 including -1 % for design.
Financial support was given by the country of Tyrol, the city of Innsbruck, and the Tiroler Sparkassen Bank AG.
22 Sep 2002
Beginning: Jan 2001
- Design: Bureau of Architecture, Mag. Andreas Egger, Kaiser-Jägerstr.10, Innsbruck
- Design: Alpenzoo Innsbruck-Tirol, Weiherburggasse 32 a
Beginning: Sep 2001
- Creative Concrete: Fröschl Beton, Josef-Mayr-Nusser-Weg 2, Innsbruck
- Net: IBS GesmbH, Hügelgasse 5, Bad Vöslau
| ||This is a climatic diagram for the closest weather station.|
580 m altitude
9.0 °C mean annual temperature
900 mm mean annual precipitation
All plants in the exhibit are European species which are well adapted to dry and sunny conditions, like south facing slopes. The shrubs (12 species) are typical south alpine species. The bushes which are planted at the east side of the aviary are representatives of thermophile species of warmer part of the Alps. Within the artificial cliffs, typical rock species like Asplenium and Sedum are planted. These cliff plants are watered by the rain water which is collected on the glass roof. Tubes transport the water to the plantings.
The plant list specifies the Latin names of the plants used for this exhibit.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO ANIMALS:
The northern bald ibis is a sun loving bird. Therefore, the sunniest place in the Zoo was chosen as the site for the aviary and the south-exposed arrangement offers optimal opportunity the catch any sun which is available during the day. The size and shape of the aviary allow the birds to fly in generous loops. The sheltered feeding area guarantees dry food which stays frost-free during winter. A shallow pool in safe distance from the visitors allows taking the daily bath undisturbed.
The ground of the bird area provides different sizes of gravel, allowing the birds to forage intensely in different substrata. To encourage foraging, insects are provided in special boxes. The nest sites are as natural as possible, modelled after the ledges that are commonly used as nest sites in the wild. Their height and size allows the display courtship behaviour, which in this species preferably takes place at the nest site. Although the cliffs are fully exposed to the sun, the shapes of the ledges provide enough shade so that the nests, nestlings, and the breeding pairs are protected against overheating during summer.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO KEEPERS:
The feeding and bathing area is made of concrete surface that is not slippery and allows for quick and easy cleaning. Also, the area under the breeding ledges is easy to clean. Small video cameras will give a look into the ledges and nest sites so that easy and not unobtrusive supervision of clutches and nestlings is possible.
FEATURES DEDICATED TO VISITORS:
As visitors actually enter the aviary, close and undisturbed observations of the birds during foraging, bathing, and courtship is possible. The northern bald ibis is an excellent flier, which is made very visible to the visitor because of the vast space in the aviary.
Visitors gain information about the biology and fate of the northern bald ibis, through educational plates that explain the behaviour and foraging techniques of the bird. A further plate presents the different head patterns of the single individuals which makes it possible to distinguish the birds – an engaging “who is who” activity. Ongoing, actual research projects and the situation in the wild are presented in short video clips.
The northern bald ibis is known as a rather shy bird. Its ability to learn is mainly restricted to the first three years and older birds need a long time to accept new partners or structures. Moving the whole colony, comprising mostly older birds, from the aviary they occupied for 40 years into this new one offers a unique research opportunity. Research is being performed on how the birds cope with the new aviary and if the environmental change has an influence on the social ranking within the birds.
Since 1988, the Alpenzoo has coordinated the EEP (endangered species program) for the northern bald ibis. A lot of behavioural studies with this colony have been done in Innsbruck. Due to the information gained, as well as good husbandry, more than 800 birds are in the EEP now. Like many other highly endangered species, the northern bald ibis faces the ironic situation that, while the wild population is on the verge of disappearing, the captive population is increasing quickly. In response to the high captive breeding success, the idea of releasing captive born birds is being intensely discussed. While we know much about this species, we still lack knowledge on behaviours crucial to the success of a reintroduction project, e.g. migration and learning. Hand rearing a small group of ibises and teaching them to cope with new environment seems to be a promising method. In the northern bald ibis, as in many other bird species, the migration route seems to be passed on as a family tradition. The proximate aim of an Austrian two-year project (waldrappteam.at) is to test, if a proper migration route can be taught to juvenile birds. A method to establish a migration tradition from Austria to Italy in a group of hand-raised northern bald ibises was first tested in summer 2002.
Design and construction of the aviary was overseen by local companies.
|©Alpenzoo Innsbruck-Tirol, 2001|
|©Alpenzoo Innsbruck-Tirol, 2001|
|Adult Northern Bald Ibis (1)|
|Sectional View (8)|