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This legendary bird is returning to Kent

Words by Blyth Brentnall

Two hundred years ago, choughs (pronounced chuffs) vanished from Kent due to habitat loss and persecution. But now this legendary bird is returning, thanks to habitat restoration efforts by Kent Wildlife Trust.

That’s great! But what’s a chough?

Choughs are black feathered birds that are part of the corvid family, alongside crows and ravens. They feature prominently in Gaelic and Celtic myths, legends and historic events. 

King Arthur’s soul is said to have departed from this world in the form of a chough; its red bill and feet signifying his bloody end. They are embedded in Kent’s history, featuring on the local coat of arms. 

Their cultural significance is spread about the country, with the bird also featuring on the Cornish coat of arms as well as that of the historic archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket.

How did their habitat recover?

Over four decades, Kent Wildlife Trust worked alongside others, including the National Trust and White Cliffs Countryside partnership. They restored the chough’s chalk grassland habitat and reintroduced conservation grazing management across East Kent.

Meanwhile, the charities’ chough breeding programme supported breeding pairs and creche-reared chicks in a top secret location to ensure they were protected. After a health screening by the International Zoo Veterinary Group, the choughs have been released into the wild.

Find out more and support the chough reintroduction programme here.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Four Paws UK. This charity is an animal welfare organisation, working globally to help animals in need. Learn more here.

Born Free. This is a wildlife conservation charity that’s passionate about wild animal welfare and Compassionate Conservation. Find out more here.

The Orangutan Project. This is a project run by two non-profits with one mission: to ensure the survival of all orangutan species in their natural habitat and promote the welfare of all orangutans. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs