Choughs are a fabulous species to see at the Park and in the wild. In 2015, Operation Chough, based at Paradise Park, was delighted to announce that choughs bred at the Park in 2011, and released into the wild on Jersey in 2013, produced their first chick.
Operation Chough is a conservation project established at Paradise Park, in Hayle, Cornwall in 1987. Our initial aim was to see the chough back and living once again on the cliffs of Cornwall. We are now working to ensure that its return is permanent and sustainable, and that the small group in Cornwall is able to maintain a healthy population into the future. We breed choughs in captivity, and are working with our partners to establish groups in several locations, and will make birds available for release in Cornwall and elsewhere to secure the future of the current population, if necessary for demographic or genetic reasons.
UPDATE January 2021
For the past few years our birds have been released in Jersey and we are pleased to say that the new population there is doing pretty well, so last year (2020) none were needed for release.
Choughs in Cornwall are doing pretty well too and our focus now is on establishing new release projects in southern England. We are working with partners on a potential site in Kent (choughs used to live along the white cliffs of Dover), also the Isle of Wight and Hampshire coast. In the long term these have the potential to spread along the coast, join up and re-establish the chough in parts of England where it has been missing for two hundred years.
The Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) is a member of the crow family, distinguished by its glossy black plumage and the red of its legs and elegantly-curved bill.
Once widespread in Britain, this mainly coastal species had always been associated with Cornwall but declined severely, then died out altogether in 1973. In 2001 up to five birds arrived in Cornwall, first seen near Newquay.
Three of these birds settled in South West Cornwall. They were later shown through genetic testing to have Irish origins, and now around twenty of their offspring have formed a pioneer population.
To see this magnificent crow is a highlight for anyone walking along Cornwall’s coast path. The chough often draws attention to itself by making its distinctive ‘chee-ow’ call, and it can also be identified in flight by its wing shape.
The decline of the chough in Cornwall was particularly sad because of its strong relationship with the county; it even features on the official coat of arms.
The first steps toward the long-term re-population of Cornwall by the chough, is a story full of hope for all who love this charismatic crow.
Read about how the Cornish Chough was plentiful in Poldark days here
In 2010 Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust received their first choughs from Paradise Park in Cornwall as part of the chough restoration project on Jersey. Here is a video from 2010 when Lee Durrell come over to pick up the choughs and took the opportunity to meet Oggy, a popular chough on display to the public at the Park.