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Maltese police confiscate national bird

The Blue Rock Thrushes were handed over by the police to International Animal RescueA number of Blue Rock Thrushes have been confiscated by the police in Malta after they received a tip off. The Blue Rock Thrush is the national bird of Malta and it is illegal to take the birds from the wild or keep them in captivity. The Administrative Law Enforcement Police who are responsible for wildlife protection simultaneously raided two houses in two different areas, namely Cospicua and Marsa in the south of Malta and they confiscated six Blue Rock Thrushes from two individuals.

The birds - one fully grown, a juvenile and four of only a few days old - were confiscated and handed over by the Police to International Animal Rescue in Malta to be cared for. Five of these birds were taken from their nests very recently and are having to be hand fed frequently during the day.

Sources close to the Police said this is not the first time that these two individuals have been found in possession of illegal Blue Rock Thrushes. In the coming days both men will be arraigned before the Court. Max Farrugia who is caring for the birds explained that the Blue Rock Thrush is a very colourful bird, particularly the male, but it is mainly sought after by birdkeepers for its song. It is a protected species and cannot be taken from its nest, trapped or kept in captivity.

The Blue Rock Thrush is a fairly common breeding resident both in Malta and Gozo. Most frequently it breeds in sea cliffs but some pairs were recorded breeding along hills and rocky valleys. The breeding season starts late in March and continues until the end of June. From four to six eggs are laid but on most occasions the number is five. A fully grown female usually breeds twice during a season and both broods are reared. The nests are mainly found in holes on the cliffs and on very rare occasions in disused buildings, particularly in the remote countryside. Some years ago the Blue Rock Thrush was on the decline but it has since started to recover and the population is now quite stable.