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Tuesday - September 17,2019
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Mysteries of Iran’s Only Endemic Bird

With an area of 1.5 million square meters, Iran is the habitat for a variety of birds, each with distinct values and beauty. However, when you move to eastern and southeastern desert areas of Iran, you can find this country’s only endemic bird. Experts know it as the Persian Ground Jay with the academic name of Podoces Pleskei. Also known as Pleske’s Ground Jay, this bird has major differences with other Corvidae members such as crows and choughs. For instance, the Persian Ground Jay depends largely on the ground. it prefers to run rather than fly once threatened by a predator. Besides, ornithologists have seen it mostly in Yazd, Semnan and Sothern Khorasan Provinces.Mysteries of Iran’s Only Endemic Bird

Habitat

As native birds to Iran, you can find Persian Ground Jays in desert areas and steppes. However, the best part of the country to observe this beautiful but mysterious bird is a small town. This city is “Shahr-e Babak” in Kerman Province and is located in the southeast of Iran. To justify jays’ choice of desert areas, there are various reasons. One of the most important ones is the dependence of these birds on a local plant called “Zygophyllum”. This tree is a scrub which grows to a height of 0.5-1.5 m tall, with twisted, rather thick and juicy branches. It has also small spoon-shaped leaves, few of which remain on the plants in autumns. As studied, Persian Ground Jays make their nests only on this plant. This is why their habitat spreads even to the eastern borders of Iran where zygophyllum grows.  Mysteries of Iran’s Only Endemic Bird

Behavior

One point about Persian Ground Jays is that they are believed to be a resident species with some dispersal movements in winter. They live mainly on insects during springs, whereas, the rest of the year, they take grains and seeds under the ground. These birds are usually seen in pairs or in families of up to 6 birds. They build a spherical nest, camouflaged by a layer of interwoven twigs, among small shrubs.

bird watching in Iran
bird watching in Iran

Once they have done breeding, which mainly happens in March, three to six eggs are laid. Until the chicks hatch, this is the female jay which incubates, for 17 to 19 days. And the male feeds her while she is in the nest. Two weeks after hatching, chicks are feathered and they start to take short walks around the nest. When chicks feel endangered, they remain still in the nest, and if they are out on the ground, they hide in bushes. To take safety measures, parents always observe the nest’s surroundings to make sure that chicks are not in danger. In the event of a predator’s presence, Persian Ground Jays try to distract predators in order to safeguard chicks.  Mysteries of Iran’s Only Endemic Bird

Current Condition

Considering human construction and urban development, Persian Ground Jays’ habitat has been partly lost, however, these endemic birds of Iran have managed to adapt themselves to the new changes and keep their population stable in the past years. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, even though the population size has not been quantified, this species has a very large range and its population trend appears to be stable, so it does not approach the thresholds for vulnerable.

Last Word

You may come to Iran as a tourist to enjoy its long rich history and numerous historical monuments; however, you should never deprive yourself of the country’s beautiful and diverse natural sites and animals, as in some cases like the Persian Ground Jay, they can be found nowhere in the world except in Iran.  Mysteries of Iran’s Only Endemic Bird

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