Bird

Prodigious Pigeon Hatches at Chester Zoo

1_Victoria crowned pigeon chick on the nest with mum just days after hatching at Chester Zoo (8)

The world’s largest member of the pigeon family, a Victoria Crowned Pigeon, recently hatched at Chester Zoo.

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4_Victoria crowned pigeon chick on the nest with mum just days after hatching at Chester Zoo (13)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

According to the Zoo, the newly fledged little bird is now bright blue, rocks the best mowhawk, and can be seen strutting its stuff! When fully grown, the chick will be similar in size to a turkey.

Native to Indonesia and New Guinea, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) is supposedly named after Queen Victoria who had a penchant for wearing elaborate, feathered headwear.

One of the closest living relatives of the now extinct Dodo, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon is itself declining in the wild, largely due to habitat loss as its forest home is cleared to make way for unsustainable palm oil plantations. It is also a bird that is prized by hunters and popular in the illegal pet trade, due to its beautiful appearance and spectacular plumage. As a result, it is a species listed as “Vulnerable” to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  

Mark Vercoe, Assistant Curator of Birds, said, “Along with the Nicobar Pigeon and the Tooth-billed Pigeon, the Victoria Crowned Pigeon is a descendant of the Dodo – a bird that has been famously lost from the planet because of the actions of humans.”

“This is something we don’t want to see a repeat of and it’s a lesson we really should learn from. Sadly, however, many bird species, including the likes of the Victoria Crowned Pigeon, are in trouble for many of the same reasons – human activity. Hopefully this chick can help us to highlight how important it is that we act for wildlife now; we cannot possibly let these beautiful birds go the same way as their extinct cousins.”

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Paradise Park Hatches Their First Brazilian Tanager

1_Brazilian Tanager mum feeds chick at Paradise Park in Hayle

Keepers at Paradise Park, in the UK, are excited about their first successful breeding of the Brazilian Tanager species.

Director, Alison Hales, remarked, “Our pair arrived from Newquay Zoo last year and settled well into one of the South Aviaries. These aviaries are in full sun which the birds like, but there is also a dense, leafy shrub in there and that is where they chose to make their nest.”

“They share their aviary with a pair of Luzon Bleeding-heart Doves, which works out well as these are ground doves so the species don’t interfere with each other.”

“The adults are very attentive, and particularly love to pick out the wax worms we feed them to pass on to their chick. I’m sure this little family will continue to thrive.”

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4_Brazilian Tanager male in full colour at Paradise Park HaylePhoto Credits: Paradisde Park

The Brazilian Tanager (Ramphocelus bresilius) is a species of bird in the family Thraupidae. They are native to lowland coastal forests of Brazil, and can also be found on the outskirts of cities.

Tanagers are quite territorial, living in pairs or small groups consisting of parents and their offspring. Fruit makes up a large part of their diet, along with insects. As well as a bowl of food in their hut, the keepers at Paradise Park have a ‘peg board’ at the back of the aviary where they can spike fruit for the birds to eat.

5_Brazilian Tanager male at Paradise Park in Hayle


Papú the Owl Chick Has An Important Job

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Back in April, an egg barely the size of a ping-pong ball arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo from the Sacramento Zoo, where its parents were not able to incubate it.

On April 17, a feisty little Burrowing Owl chick pipped its way out of that egg. The chick, a male, was named Papú. His name, which is pronounced like paw-POO, with emphasis on the second syllable, means “Burrowing Owl” in the dialect of the Yakama tribes of eastern Washington. Little Papú, who also goes by the nickname Pippin, was at hatching barely a few inches long, covered in white downy plumage, and his eyes were not open yet.

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Because Papú will be reared by his keepers, it was decided that he will become an ambassador animal at the Woodland Park Zoo. In this very important role, Papú will meet zoo guests to help build a strong connection between people and wildlife. Right away, Papú captured the hearts of the animal keepers who will feed him, raise him, train with him throughout his life, and generally just let him become his best little Owl-self.

Papú is now nearly two months old and already adult-size, although he still has some of the downy plumage of a chick. Most baby birds are the same size as their parents by the time they’re ready to leave the nest—and Papú is just at that age. Adult feathers, which are mottled brown and white, are already starting to grow in, including those all-important flight feathers.

At this point, his flights are limited to practice take-offs and soft, but not always graceful, landings on his keepers’ laps or the ground. Within another week or so, he will probably take his first real flight, and by early autumn Papú will have his adult plumage and his eyes and beak will start turning yellow.

Burrowing Owls are small, long-legged Owls found throughout open landscapes of North and South America. These tiny predators—they’re only 8 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 8 ounces when fully grown—can be found in grasslands, rangelands and throughout the Great Plains.

They nest and roost in underground burrows that might have been dug out by prairie dogs or ground squirrels, although they can create their own burrows if needed. Unlike most Owls, Burrowing Owls are active day or night hunting for beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, mice and small lizards. The Burrowing Owl is endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. Although still common in much of the U.S., its population numbers are in decline and they are listed as threatened in several states due to the eradication of prairie dogs and loss of habitat.

See more photos below, including several of Papú right after he hatched.

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Rare Owl Chick Raised By Foster Parents

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Northern Spotted Owls are one of the rarest birds in Canada, with only about 30 individuals remaining in the country. That’s why the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is thrilled to announce the successful hatching and release of a Northern Spotted Owl chick to foster parents at the facility.

Researchers collected and incubated an egg which had been laid on March 11. Nicknamed “Egg B,” the egg was monitored closely over the 32-day incubation period. The chick took 85 hours to break out of its egg, emerging on April 15.

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ChickB-18 Newly HatchedPhoto Credit: Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program

Staff at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program hand-reared the chick, now referred to as “Chick B,” for the first 10 days of its life to increase the chick’s chances of survival.  The chick remained safe and warm, with constant care from staff 24 hours a day. The chick’s specific nutrition and temperature requirements were met as it grew and developed over the 10-day period. Owlets lack the ability to regulate their own body temperature.

After 10 days of round-the-clock care, Chick B was placed in the nest of an experienced Northern Spotted Owl pair named Scud and Shania who reside at the facility. You can see Chick B and its foster parents in the nest on the live stream below or by clicking here. The webcam is hosted by the Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program in partnership with the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program.

The mission of the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program is to breed Northern Spotted Owls in a captive breeding program for eventual release into over 300,000 hectares of protected old growth forests in hopes that the species will re-establish itself and thrive.  Located in British Columbia, the Breeding Program began in 2007 with a founding population of six adult Spotted Owls. There are currently 20 Spotted Owls residing at the breeding facility, including four breeding pairs. The Program's target is to house 10 breeding pairs by 2020, and release 10-20 offspring each year for the next 15-20 years. 

See more photos of Chick B below.

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Zoo Celebrates First Blue-billed Curassow Chick

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Nashville Zoo’s avian staff welcomed their first Curassow chick on May 5.

After 30 days of incubation, Nashville Zoo keepers and veterinary staff assisted the chick in hatching. Keepers opted to assist the chick due to inactivity during the second day, after its initial pip in the shell membrane. Keepers noticed the shell membrane was dry instead of wet, and they decided intervention was necessary.

“This is a very valuable animal, and we need to do everything we can to help it survive,” said Shelley Norris, Nashville Zoo Avian Area Supervisor. “This egg hatching is significant because Curassows are critically endangered in the wild.”

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4_41137968845_508862919c_oPhoto Credits: Kelsey White/Nashville Zoo

There are only 54 Blue-billed Curassows in zoos across the country and only about 750 in the wild. The population has been in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

This is the first chick born from breeding pair, Albert (3) and Victoria (5), who both arrived in Nashville in 2015.

The Curassows at Nashville Zoo have laid eggs in the past. However, the eggs were either not viable or the female knocked the eggs out of the nest.

“She [Victoria] has no idea that she’s supposed to sit on the eggs,” Norris said. “We think it’s because she’s young and things haven’t kicked in yet."

Nashville Zoo's avian staff is currently working with Houston Zoo and the Species Survival Plan on where to best place this chick.

The Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti) is a species of bird in the family Cracidae, which includes the Chachalacas, Guans, and Curassows.

The bird is native to Colombia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. The species is threatened by habitat loss and is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN.

Blue-billed Curassows are believed to live in the same areas in Colombia as Cotton-top Tamarins, a primate species that was recently introduced in the Nashville Zoo's new Expedition Peru exhibit. The Zoo is contributing to the conservation project “Proyecto Titi” that benefits sustaining the Cotton-top Tamarin population, which could potentially also benefit the Blue-billed Curassows with the installation of camera traps to monitor the species.

“We’re learning how best to care for them,” Norris said. “Right now, this species is just so critical, we basically are just keeping them alive in general until we can find a solution in the wild.”


Rescued Little Penguins Return to the Sea

Please Credit Photographer Sarah Lievore (4)
On April 17, Taronga Wildlife Hospital staff released five healthy Little Penguins into the sea after nursing them back to health in Sydney, Australia.

The birds arrived at Taronga from nearby beaches over the past two months. Injuries included dehydration, a fishing hook injury and a broken foot.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Lievore

Taronga Wildlife Hospital manager Libby Hall said, “Most of the penguins were brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital by members of the community who saw them in difficulty and took action. The community’s awareness of Little Penguins and other wildlife is increasing all the time and by acting quickly, they give us the best chance to help the birds through difficult times.”

The penguins were nicknamed by the Taronga Wildlife Hospital:

  • Bondi, found on Bondi Beach
  • Footsie, found in Newcastle on Stockton Beach
  • Nigel, found Chowder Bay in Mosman
  • Margaret, found in Maroubra
  • Collin, found on Collins Beach in Manly

Penguins hunt for fish as they swim in the ocean. Little Penguins become vulnerable during their annual molt, when their waterproof feathers fall out in clumps. Until their new feathers grow in, they cannot enter the water to capture fish. Because the Penguins do not feed during the molting period, they become emaciated and weak so are vulnerable to domestic pets, most particularly dogs.

The colony of Little Penguins at Manly in Sydney Harbor is the last remaining on the mainland of New South Wales. This population is protected and numbers only about 60 pairs. Other nearby colonies are located on offshore islands, which offer the Penguins some protection from pressure from humans and domestic pets.

Little Penguins are found in habitats along Australia’s southern coast and on the shores of Tasmania. These birds are also present on the southern coast of New Zealand. Several colonies have declined over the past decades, mostly due to human interference and predation. They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

People can help Little Penguins at beaches by keeping dogs on leashes, not leaving rubbish including fishing line hooks around and protecting habitat at the shoreline.

See more photos of the Penguin release below.

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Screamer Chicks Hatch at Woodland Park Zoo

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A pair of female Crested Screamer chicks hatched in early March at Woodland Park Zoo. The little birds represent the first offspring between the 15-year-old mother and 23-year-old father. The last successful hatching of this species at the Seattle, WA, zoo was in 2002.

At just a few weeks old, the chicks are fluffy and downy and currently weigh about 6 ounces.

“So far, we’re pleased to report the chicks are experiencing good weight gains,” said Mark Myers, bird curator at Woodland Park Zoo. “They’re eating well and the parents are very attentive. The chicks need lots of food and exercise to grow. Based on how they’re doing, we’re optimistic they’ll continue to thrive under the care of their parents and our animal care staff.”

According to the Zoo, Crested Screamer parents do not regurgitate food for their chicks. Instead, they lead the chicks to food and drop tasty treats as a lesson on how to peck for food. Myers said the Zoo’s family dines on a blend of game bird, waterfowl pellets, lots of fresh romaine, and broccoli florets.

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4_WPZScreamerChicksNestPhoto Credits: Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

The Crested Screamer (Chauna torquata) is aptly named for its loud, distinctive call, making it among the loudest of any bird. Native to Bolivia and southern Brazil, to northern Argentina, these large goose-like birds are common in tropical and subtropical wetlands, including marshes, estuaries and lowland lakes.

Another distinctive feature of the species is a large, sharp spur on each wing, which the birds use to defend themselves against predators. Adults reach and average size of 81–95 cm (32–37 inches) long and a weight of around 3–5 kg (6.6–11.0 pounds).

Screamers form monogamous relationships, and both adults take part in incubation and caring for the chicks. The female lays between two to seven white eggs, and incubation takes 43 to 46 days. Chicks leave the nest as soon as they hatch, but the parents will care for them for several weeks. The fledging period takes 8 to 14 weeks.

Although the Crested Screamer population is not threatened in their home range, Screamers and many other species of waterfowl are threatened by habitat loss due to human-imposed activities.

The new family at Woodland Park Zoo is currently off-exhibit, to allow animal keepers to monitor the chicks closely and weigh them regularly to ensure acceptable weight gains.

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Zoo Releases Footage of Bird-of-Paradise Hatching

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The Cincinnati Zoo recently announced the hatching of a Raggiana Bird-of-paradise chick. This is the Zoo’s third chick, and they are one of only four facilities in the U.S. to breed and raise the species in the last ten years. Only eleven AZA zoos house this species.

According to the Cincinnati Zoo, the parents have a habit of breaking their eggs. In an effort to do what is best for the survival of the chick, keepers opted for “ghost rearing”. “Ghost rearing” involves a procedure of feeding the chick from behind a screen, to disguise where the food is coming from, and prevent the chick from imprinting with humans. The Zoo plans to re-introduce the chick to its parents, once it is weaned.

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4_IMG_3316Photo Credits: Kathy Newton (Images 1,7) / Cincinnati Zoo (Images 2-6,8)

The Raggiana Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) is only found on the island nation of New Guinea. Their native diet consists mainly of fruits and arthropods, and the species is an important seed disperser of some fruiting trees in New Guinea.

The beautiful birds are best known for their extravagant courtship displays. They are unique in that they are a lekking species. Up to ten males at a time are known to congregate in leks (display arenas for visiting females) in an effort to impress a potential mate. Males put on a display, which involves clapping of their wings and shaking their heads.

More below the fold!

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This Penguin Chick Will Have An Important Job

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A Humboldt Penguin chick that hatched on February 12 at Brookfield Zoo is thriving, and in the near future, may be taking on an important role. As early as this May, and depending on whether he chooses to participate, the unnamed chick will be an animal ambassador for the zoo’s Penguin Encounters.

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29542154_10156436472994170_1738579396798709760_nPhoto Credit: Brookfield Zoo

Currently being hand-reared by animal care staff, the chick is being carefully monitored. He is weighed three times a day—once each morning to determine how much weight was gained over a 24-hour period, as well as after each feeding to calculate how much of its diet of herring and marine smelt he consumed.

The chick will molt from his down feathers into juvenile plumage by two months of age, at which time he will be introduced to a shallow pool of water. Adult plumage will not be present until the chick is about two years old. In addition to possibly being an integral member of the Penguin Encounters, the chick will be introduced to and reside in the Humboldt Penguin colony in the rocky shores habitat at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast.

Each Penguin Encounter begins with a member of the animal care staff sharing fun facts about the zoo’s resident Humboldt penguins and communicating how to safely interact with the penguin during the session. During the program, penguins are free to roam and waddle up to anyone they choose – and while one animal may be camera-shy, another individual may enjoy a good selfie or two. The animals appear to find the encounters as enriching as guests and each penguin ambassador chooses whether to participate in the encounters. Staff also talk about the conservation work the Chicago Zoological Society is doing in Punta San Juan, Peru, to help preserve the habitat and abundant wildlife, including Humboldt Penguins that live along the South American coastline.

Humboldt Penguins are native to the Pacific coastlines of Peru and Chile. The population has fallen due to climate change, guano mining, and competition for food with commercial fisheries. The birds are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.


Penguin Chick Goes For Its First Swim

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A two-month old African Penguin chick went for its first swim at the Tulsa Zoo.

The chick hatched on January 17 to mom Keppy, age 26, and her mate Rogue, age 9. Keppy is the third-oldest member of the Tulsa Zoo’s penguin flock.

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Penguin 1Photo Credit: Tulsa Zoo

The chick’s gender is not yet known. A DNA sample will be sent to an outside lab to determine the new Penguin’s sex.

Last week, the chick enjoyed its first swim under close supervision in a small pool behind-the-scenes. Penguin chicks have fluffy down feathers, which are not as water repellent as the feathers of adult Penguins. Until chicks molt into their waterproof adult plumage when they're a few months old, they are not able to swim well.

“Keppy became a great-grandmother last year,” said Tulsa Zookeeper Seana Flossic. “We are delighted for Keppy and Rogue, a 9-year-old male, to enjoy parenthood together for the first time. They are doing a great job caring for their new chick.”

Seana Flossic manages the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s African Penguin Studbook as a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), keeping records on all AZA members’ flocks. The SSP makes recommendations on breeding and transfers to ensure the long-term health of this species.

This chick is the 37th penguin to hatch at the Tulsa Zoo since 2002.

African Penguins are native to the southern coast of Africa and are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The population has fallen from more than one million birds in 1900 to fewer than 80,000 today. Oil spills and competition with commercial fisheries have contributed to the birds’ steep decline.