Eagle

'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. 


Rare Sea Eagle Chick a First for Denver Zoo

Stellers_sea_eagle_chick01The Denver Zoo welcomed the first Steller’s Sea Eagle chick to be successfully reared at the zoo. Because only a few United States zoos exhibit or breed these raptors, the chick’s hatching is a rare event in the U.S. 

The first two photos shown here feature the chick; the third and fourth photos show an adult Steller’s Sea Eagle.

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Stellers_sea_eagle_chick04Photo Credit:  Denver Zoo



The unnamed chick, whose gender is still not known, hatched on March 4. The chick is currently nesting with and being brooded by its mother.

This is the first chick for both mother, Ursula, and father, Vlad. The two were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.

Steller’s Sea Eagles are the largest known eagles with average weights between 15 and 18 pounds. They have large, bright yellow beaks; their plumage is mostly dark brown or black, save for the white feathers on their upper wings, tails and thighs. Little is known about the species as their primary habitats in East Asia and coastal areas of northern Russia are remote. The birds were named after German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, who discovered the species during an Alaskan voyage in 1741.

With a wild population estimated between 4,600 and 5,000 individuals, Steller’s Sea Eagles are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their numbers continue to decrease due to habitat alteration and destruction, pollution, logging and over-fishing, which decreases their food source.


Endangered Harpy Eagle Mom Shares a Sneak Peek of Her Hatchling

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It is with great pride that Zoo Miami officially announces the hatching of an endangered Harpy Eagle! Here are several images that Ron Magill was extremely fortunate to capture friday morning (after patiently waiting over 3 ½ hours for the mother to allow him a view!) of the chick being fed by its mother. In addition, we’ve included two images that Ron was able to take of the chick when it was only 9 days old so you can see how much it has grown in 3 weeks.

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Zoo Miami Harpy Eagle Chick 10

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Photo credits: Ron Magill / Zoo Miami

Continue reading "Endangered Harpy Eagle Mom Shares a Sneak Peek of Her Hatchling" »


First Pinskers Hawk-Eagle Hatched at Philippine Eagle Foundation

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The Philippine Eagle Foundation announced a first in its conservation breeding program. They successfully hatched a Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle chick on April 2 at their conservation breeding facility after an incubation period of 48 days. The chick is the first Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus pinskeri) bred and hatched in captivity. It came from a natural pair of parents and weighed a mere 57.2 grams when it hatched.

Once it reaches adulthood, this medium-sized eagle will look like the third picture below. It will have a light brown body with a brown, black and white belly and a dark brown tail striped with four to five darker, narrow bands. Its head and under parts will be reddish-brown with black streaks, while the throat will be white. And its wings will become broad and rounded.

The Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle, endemic to the Philippines, is a species of bird of prey in the Acciptridae family. It is considered threatened because of the loss of its natural habitat - the subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador said, “The fast diminishing forests and destruction of their habitats are still the biggest threats to their survival. We need everyone’s contribution to ensure that the Pinsker’s Hawk-Eagle population will increase, especially in the wild."

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Adult Pinsker's Hawk-Eagle
Photo Credits: Philippine Eagle Foundation

Read more about the eagle and PEF's conservation efforts after the jump:

Continue reading "First Pinskers Hawk-Eagle Hatched at Philippine Eagle Foundation" »


Harpy Eagle Chick Born at Miami Metrozoo

Last month the Miami Metrozoo became the second zoo in the United States ever to breed a rare Harpy Eagle. Since baby eagle mortality rates are high, the zoo waited until this week to announce the birth, but happily the baby eagle is in great shape. The chick's gender is unknown as zoo staff cannot get too close. When keepers approach the chick "the mother gets very defensive, opens her wings and covers the chick right away. Then she starts squealing … wheeee wheeee wheee. And when a bird has talons the size of a grizzly bear's paw, you pay attention," explained the zoo spokesman. 

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Photo credits: Ron Magill / Miami Metrozoo