Bird

'Chicks Rule' at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

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A Steller’s Sea Eagle, a Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick, and three Spur-Winged Lapwings are among the significant hatchings reported in the past two weeks, at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

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[Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford (Image 1: Steller's Sea Eagle chick; Image 2: Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick; Image 3: Spur-winged Lapwing chicks)]

Steller’s Sea Eagles are one of the most rare raptors in the world. They are twice the size of, and much more aggressive than, their close relative, the Bald Eagle. The Cincinnati Zoo was the only Zoo in the U.S. to breed this species successfully, until the Denver Zoo hatched a chick last year. Cincinnati has now bred three pairs, and produced 12 chicks, in cooperation with the Species Survival Plan (SSP). There are currently 22 Steller’s Sea Eagles in 11 North American institutions.

Chick watch began on April 29, when Aviculture staff noticed the Sea Eagle parents looking down at their nest more frequently. A chick was first observed on May 3, and by May 7it looked to have doubled in size. Their incubation period can last 39 to 45 days and they lay one to three eggs (but only one chick usually survives).

As of 2009, the Steller’s Sea Eagle population was estimated at 5,000 birds worldwide, but that number is dropping. Although legally protected in Russia, Japan, China, and South Korea, other threats to these rare birds include fossil fuel energy developments, wind farms, pollution, habitat loss, hunting, and possibly global warming.

The Cincinnati Zoo hatched its first Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chick on May 2. To date, San Diego, Honolulu, and Miami are the only Zoos in the U.S. to produce Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise chicks that lived at least 30 days.

The Cincinnati Zoo’s chick has almost reached that milestone and keepers are optimistic that it will stay in good health. The chick’s 13-year-old father is the most genetically valuable of his species (meaning his genes are the most needed in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) collections to keep the population as healthy/genetically diverse as possible).

The Cincinnati Zoo has mimicked the life strategy of these birds in the wild.  Males get together and show off in a central tall tree (called a “lek”), while the females gather around to view the spectacle and select a mate.  They breed and she flies off to build her nest and raise her chick all by herself while the male goes back to dancing!

Bird-of-Paradise chicks often do well as hand-reared youngsters. They eat mostly insects, pinkie mice pieces, and papaya and are extremely intelligent birds that can learn to mimic many noises and sometimes speech. All Bird-of-Paradise species are protected, in Papua New Guinea, from the large-scale hunting that occurred there in the late 1800’s and nearly drove several species to extinction. Their feathers and skins were exported, by the thousands, for fashionable hats. Their biggest concern now is rainforest habitat loss.

Three Spur-Winged Lapwings also join the list. Although they are not rare at all in the wild, they are still special to the Cincinnati Zoo and genetically significant offspring from first-time parents.

The Spur-Winged Lapwing breeds around the eastern Mediterranean and in a wide band from sub-Saharan West Africa to Arabia. The Greek and Turkish breeders are migratory, but other populations are resident. The species is declining in its northern range, but it is abundant in much of tropical Africa, being seen at almost any wetland habitat in its range. 


Dozens Of Babies Steal The Show At Cincinnati Zoo

2015-04-02 Lion Cubs 1 626The Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating a baby bonanza – dozens of babies have been born at the zoo in the past few months.  In fact, there are so many babies that the zoo is celebrating “Zoo Babies” month in May.Kea

2015-03-16 MonaJeffMcCurryPhoto Credit:  Cassandre Crawford, Jeff McCurry, Cincinnati Zoo
 

All the little ones have kept their parents – and zoo keepers – busy.  The three female African Lion cubs are particularly feisty, testing their “grrrl” power on a daily basis with their father John and mother Imani. 

Other babies include three Bonobos, two Gorillas, a Bongo, a Serval, two Capybaras, a Rough Green Snake, Giant Spiny Leaf Insects, Thorny Devils, Little Penguin chicks and Kea chicks.  “This is the largest and most varied group of babies we’ve had. We’re particularly excited about the successes we’ve had with the endangered African Painted Dogs and the hard-to-breed Kea,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director.

See more photos of Cincinnati's Zoo's babies below.

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Zoo Praha Breeds an Endangered Philippine Scops Owl

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Zoo Praha has managed to parent-rear a Philippine Scops Owl chick. The endangered species of owl lives only in the northern part of the Philippines. Prague Zoo actively contributes to its protection in cooperation with the rescue station for owls on the Philippine island of Negros. So far, the sex of the chick is unknown. Currently Zoo Praha has one breeding pair of Philippine Scops Owls. The female came from Luzon Island and the male was reared at Wroclaw Zoo.

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Photo Petr Hamerník, Prague Zoo


Marshbirds On the March

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It is the peak of the nesting and hatching season in the Marsh Aviary at NaturZoo Rheine, the home of a large mixed colony of coastal birds like Ruffs, Redshanks, Lapwings and Avocets. NaturZoo Rheine has been renowned as an expert for breeding waders for decades. Every year at least dozens and up to more than a hundred chicks of the different species are reared and distributed to zoos worldwide. However, working with these birds is never routine and there are always challenges in husbandry.

Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) chicks are extremely agile from hatching on. This is evidenced in their food searching skills – their ability to filter and pick up small particles of food from the water surface. Adults care well for the chicks, guiding, defending and warming them and scooping them up into their plumage. However, most of these chicks have been reared by zookeepers to ensure balanced care as it's not guaranteed in the large colony in the aviary because of territoriality and rivalry among the birds.

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Endangered Siberian Crane Hatches at Franklin Park Zoo

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Franklin Park Zoo in Massachusetts has announced the successful hatching of a rare Siberian Crane chick. Hatched on May 6, the chick is the offspring of Sneetch, age 20, and Shakti, age 22.

In the wild, Siberian Cranes breed in the high Arctic regions of Siberia. These Endangered birds stand about 4 feet (120 cm) tall and are noted for their pure white plumage and black flight feathers. It is estimated that only 3,000 of these birds remain in the wild.

There are only 21 Siberian Cranes in captivity in four North American institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Franklin Park Zoo has six Siberian Cranes including the new chick. Since 1999, there have been eight chicks, including the newest chick, hatched at the zoo.

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This success is the result of a lot of hard work and technical expertise. The chick at Franklin Park Zoo is a result of artificial insemination. The chick’s parents, a breeding pair, have resided at Franklin Park Zoo since 1996. Because these birds hail from the high Arctic regions, each year on February 14 the zoo staff increases the amount of light in the birds’ exhibit by one hour a week to simulate the light cycle in their native environment. The light is increased until the birds receive 21 to 22 hours of light a day. Once the light cycle reaches this point, the birds typically begin breeding. Franklin Park Zoo is actually the first zoo in North America to have successfully bred this endangered species.

“Siberian Cranes are an incredible species with an important conservation story to tell. Every successful hatch is important as it helps to hedge against this species’ extinction,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England president and CEO. “With any new birth or hatch, there is always risk but we are hopeful that this new chick will continue to thrive and will contribute to the survival of its species.”


Rare Pigeon Chicks Get Special Care at Chester Zoo

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This tiny chick might currently look more like a Brillo Pad than an exotic bird – but it’s soon going to scrub up well! Twenty-one-day-old Kola is one of two rare White-naped Pheasant Pigeons to have hatched at Chester Zoo in England, where they are receiving around-the-clock care in their early days.

After being rejected by their parents, the chicks are being hand-reared by keepers who have devised a special diet suited to their needs. And amusingly, given their startling resemblance to Brillo Pads, keepers are actually using scouring pads to help look after their new charges.

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4 pigeonPhoto credit: Steve Rawlins / Chester Zoo

Keeper Gareth Evans (pictured above) says, “Hand-feeding them is a tricky business but we use a scouring pad to make things a little easier. It gives them something to grip onto to make sure they don’t slip and slide around, helping their feet and legs to develop properly. Normally they’d be on a nest on the ground made up of lots of little sticks and twigs so a scouring pad acts to create the grip they’d get from the nest.

“Adult Pheasant Pigeons produce a unique crop milk which they regurgitate to feed to their young. So when we have to hand-rear we have to try and replicate that using a set of special ingredients, featuring egg, water and vitamin pellets. I give Kola his first feed of the day at 6am and his last is at 10pm. So I really am playing the full-time parent.”

In the wild, White-naped Pheasant Pigeons only inhabit the Aru Islands, close to Papua in Indonesia.

See and learn more after the fold.

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Monterey Bay Aquarium Raises Snowy Plovers for Release

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Staff at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are raising three Snowy Plover chicks, an Endangered species. The aquarium's experienced rehabilitators believe these little guys have an excellent chance of being successfully re-released back into the wild. 

Some well-meaning beachgoers brought two tagged chicks to the aquarium for care, thinking that they had been abandoned. Because breeding pairs and nest sites are carefully monitored, it was possible to figure out what nest the chicks had come from and to discover that the father was still caring for his one remaining chick. 

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4 ploverPhoto credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Representatives of California State Parks and Point Blue Conservation Science carefully placed a cage over the chick to keep the parent close by until aquarium staff could arrive with the other two chicks. They then placed all three chicks in the enclosure to give the dad a chance to see them.  After ensuring that the male was interested in the chicks, the cage was removed the cage and he began caring for all three once again. 

Unfortunately, the father seems to have changed his mind, and all three chicks are now being raised at the aquarium. Fortunately, they have been rehabilitating Snowy Plover chicks since 2000, with dozens of successful releases. 

See and learn more after the fold.

Continue reading "Monterey Bay Aquarium Raises Snowy Plovers for Release" »


Colorful Chicks Hatch at Zoo Basel

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Here’s a sure sign of spring from Zoo Basel in Switzerland: eight colorful Silkie chickens have hatched and are now cheeping and pecking away.

The colourful little balls of fluff are exploring their surroundings and pecking at anything that looks remotely like grain. At the first sign of danger they fly back beneath their mother's protective feathers. The eight chicks can be seen in the stall in the coming weeks, and will join the rest of the chicken brood once they are a little larger. 

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The hens at the children’s zoo incubate their own eggs and then rear the chicks. A few days before hatching, the chicks begin to cheep, hearing their mother’s sounds through the shell of the egg. After a brooding period of 21 days, the chicks break out from inside the eggshells using their 'egg tooth’, a protuberance on the beak which recedes after the chick has hatched. The newly hatched chicks are already able to feed on their own.

The Silkie chicken is a breed of domestic fowl. Its distinctive feature is its plumage, which almost resembles fine fur. This fine silkiness stems from the fact that the chickens do not have the little hooks, called barbules, which ‘zip’ the barbs of a flight feather together to create a stiff surface. 


Tawny Frogmouth Chick is a First for Denver Zoo

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Keepers at Denver Zoo in Colorado know from experience that Tawny Frogmouths are difficult to breed. Over the years they have struggled with problems such as infertility and finding compatible pairs. Two birds hatched at Denver Zoo in 1996, but they passed away less than two days after hatching. Now all the work has finally paid off: the zoo has successfully hatched and raised a Tawny Frogmouth chick for the first time!

The chick, named Kermit, whose sex is still not known, hatched on January 27. Lucky visitors may be able catch a glimpse of the new chick in its home of 'Bird World', where it is being brooded by its parents. Zookeepers monitor the chick's weight closely each morning and supplementally feed it as needed.

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Kermit is the first chick for both father, Nangkita (Nang-kee-tah), and mother, Adelaide. Nangkita hatched at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo in June 2009 and came to Denver Zoo in January 2010. Adelaide hatched at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo in July 2012 and arrived at Denver Zoo a year later. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals by recommending pairings that will prevent inbreeding. Fortunately, this pair has proved to be an excellent match.

As their name indicates, Tawny Frogmouths are known for their wide frog-like mouths, which they use to catch insects and other small animals. They are sometimes mistaken for owls as they have very similar body types, but are actually more closely related to birds like whippoorwills and nightjars. Tawny Frogmouths are also masters of disguise. Their beige and brown feathers remarkably resemble the tree branches in which they roost. When they feel threatened they sit perfectly still and rely on their camouflage to hide from predators.

Tawny Frogmouths inhabit forests and open woodlands in Australia and Tasmania. Scientists are not sure how many Tawny Frogmouths exist in the wild. Their greatest threats come from being hit by cars while feeding and exposure to pesticides. 


Endangered Micronesian Kingfisher Hatches

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The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute rung in 2014 with the hatching of the most endangered species in its collection—a Micronesian Kingfisher— on January 1. The chick, whose sex is unknown, is the first offspring for its 8-year-old father and 2-year-old mother. This boost brings the total population of Micronesian Kingfishers to 129 birds. They are extinct in the wild.

Micronesian Kingfishers are extremely difficult to breed due to incompatibility between males and females, and the inability of some parents to successfully raise their own chicks.  Animal care staff are hand-raising the chick, which involves feeding it at two-hour intervals, seven to eight times per day.

Visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo can see these critically endangered birds on exhibit in the Bird House.

Kingfisher 2Photo credits: Victoria Lake / Conservation Biology Institute

See a video of the hatchling:

 

Micronesian Kingfishers flourished in Guam’s limestone forests and coconut plantations until the arrival of the brown tree snake, an invasive species that stowed away in military equipment shipped from New Guinea after World War II. Because these reptiles had no natural predators on Guam, their numbers grew and they spread across the island quickly. Within three decades, they had hunted Micronesian Kingfishers and eight other bird species to the brink of extinction.

In 1984, Guam’s Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources captured the country’s remaining 29 Micronesian Kingfishers and sent them to zoological institutions around the globe—including the National Zoo—as a hedge against extinction. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums created a Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the birds. The SSP pairs males and females in order to maintain a genetically diverse and self-sustaining population in captivity.

As the captive population increases, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Guam’s Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources continue to look for suitable release sites in Guam. The availability of release sites continues to shrink, however, due to deforestation and human expansion. Controlling the brown snake population remains a significant challenge as well. Scientists are hopeful that initiatives for snake control and forest protection signify that the reintroduction of the Micronesian Kingfisher may soon become feasible. Additionally, field studies of a different subspecies of wild kingfishers are underway on Pohnpei, another Micronesian island, to secure essential biological information on wild populations and to test various reintroduction techniques for use on Guam.