The Tibet and China bird exhibit is composed of five aviaries. You can walk through the two largest (the first and the last) which allow an absolutely undisturbed view of the animals. All aviaries are a kind of window with a view into the homelands of the presented bird species. As you go through the individual aviaries, it feels like you are coming down from the highest altitudes. Using their imaginations, visitors can see the tour through the river bed as coming from the highest slopes of the Himalayas down to the lowlands of eastern China. Each of the aviaries is occupied by a bird species typical for the concerned region and altitude. They are representatives of a very interesting group of gallinaceous birds (in particular, pheasants). Due to the use of the actual biotopes in individual altitudes when arranging the aviaries, visitors may observe the birds within their local vegetation supplemented with stone sets. It is as if were really walking through the diverse, beautiful but endangered landscape of Tibet and China.
1. “Himalayas” Aviary (4,000 – 5,000 metres above sea level)
The peaks and alpine valleys of the Himalayas with altitudes of up to 4,000 – 5,000 metres above sea level are used as the models for the first aviary. The most striking pheasant found there is the Himalayan monel (Lophophorus impejanus) and for its vocal demonstrations, the Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) is interesting. As concerns plants, rhododendrons and irises grow there, which are typical for this region. On the whole, life at these heights is very demanding and generally only a few plant and animal species have adjusted to these conditions. The variegated feathers of the male Himalayan monel is breathtaking, however. The strong beaks of these monels dig out roots and corms from the ground like a hoe.
2. “Plateau of Tibet” Aviary (3,000 – 4,000 metres above sea level)
In altitudes of 3,000 – 4,000 metres above sea level in the Tibetan mountains, there are often flat as well as undulating landscapes with typical vegetation of rhododendrons and azaleas. They serve as a cover for the rare White-eared pheasant (Crossoptilon crossoptilon) and is a place for the border occurence of Little owls (Athene noctua) which also live in our country. The composition of species at this altitude is richer than in the high mountains but still, it is quite limited in comparison with the nutritious lowlands of East China. A special trait of the White-eared pheasants is their monogamy. Perhaps this is why we would not be successful if looking for differences of colours between males and females.
3. “Bamboo Vegetation of Szechuan” Aviary (2,000 – 3,000 metres above sea level)
At altitudes of approximately 2,000 to 3,000 metres above sea level, bamboo vegetation in Szetchuan is typical and Temminck’s Tragopans (Tragopan temminckii) together with Red-billed Blue Magpies (Urocissa erythrorhyncha) are famous inhabitants. Although the most famous inhabitants of this area are certainly the pandas. At these altitudes, human activity is more prevelant and hence a number of animal species there are endangered. The tragopans, the strange tree phasianids, are declining in number. The males show off during the display to the much more modestly coloured females.
4. “Junnan – Mixed Forest” Aviary (1,000 – 2,000 metres above sea level)
The forest vegetation of Junnan is occupied by the rare Hume’s pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae), the upper tree layer is colonized by the Spotted dove (Stigmatopelia chinensis) and the Green-winged dove (Chalcophaps indica), the shrub layer is a home of the Black-breasted thrush (Turdus dissimilis) and Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) fly on the forest edge of the wide open spaces. The composition of species is quite rich in this vegetation yet it is often exposed to the presence of humans. It comes as no surprise that a number of animals are rare and endangered. Not even the Hume’s pheasant has managed to escape conflicts with civilization. However, we may still find groups composed of one male and two females living there.
5. “Lowlands of East China” Aviary (0 – 1,000 metres above sea level)
Southeast China is very densely populated, which causes changes to the environment. Whereas certain animals have adapted to the change, others have become very rare or endangered. The lowland areas are rarely occupied by Baikal Teals (Anas formosa). The more common species are Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis). The noisy Azure-winged Magpies (Cyanopica cyanus cyanus) fly in the treetops and the unobtrusive Chinese Bamboo Partridge (Bambusicola thoracicus) lives in the shrubs. Of the mentioned biotopes, the lowlands are the richest in terms of species. The Chinese Bamboo Partridge is among the species that have partially managed to accommodate the changes to their natural environment as a result of human activity.