Peacock, Pheasant & Quail

Are You My Mother? Guinea Fowl Chicks Raised By Peahens!


There's something a little different going on at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, but it's working. Two clutches of Guineafowl chicks were incubated by Feta and Blue, the Zoo's Indian peahens. The chicks hatched on July 7 and 14, and though an entirely different kind of bird, Feta and Blue are now raising the chicks too -- even though they look, act, and sound nothing like them. Their roles have been simple: help the chicks avoid common zoo quandaries such as pedestrians, Motor Safari trams, and predators like the occasional overhead hawk. This is important since both species have free range of the zoo grounds every day and night.

The practice of switching eggs is not as unusual as it may seem. Other zoos have had success with chickens incubating pheasant eggs, and the method has been tried with cranes, many of which are endangered in the wild.

“Zoogoers may not notice anything unusual between the moms and chicks, but there are definitely differences and several barriers that they needed to overcome, including language and behaviors,” said Tim Snyder, curator of birds for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “The first two weeks were a little precarious because the chicks needed to learn what the peahens’ vocalization meant and adapt to different behaviors that are not instinctual to them.”

Crop 2

Crop 3

Crop 1
Photo Credit: Chicago Zoological Society

For instance, Guineafowl chicks naturally scatter and hide when frightened or threatened, while peachicks run toward their mother. Additionally, Guineafowl moms and chicks move as a group and help care for each others’ young, which is the opposite of independent peafowl. Another difference between the two species is the length of time the juvenile birds stay close to Mom. Probably much to Feta and Blue’s dismay, the Guineafowl chicks will be tagging along with them for about a year until the next breeding season, which will be in the spring. In the wild, Guineafowl tend to stay together as a flock, including the males, while peafowl juveniles tend to become independent of Mom much sooner.

This is Feta’s second time and Blue’s first of being successful surrogate moms to Guineafowl chicks at Brookfield Zoo. Although they have free range of the entire park, the family groups can generally be found roaming near The Swamp, Tropic World, or the Formal Pool.

In the wild, Guineafowl are found throughout western, northeastern, and southern Africa in open areas, including forest edges, savannahs, scrublands, and cultivated areas. Indian peafowl, also known as blue peafowl, are the national bird of India and are protected in that country. The species prefers the open forests of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Little Phoenixes at the Taipei Zoo

Great Argus Hen and Chicks 1s

ZooBorns has been working hard to encourage more submissions from zoos in Asia and we are thrilled to share our first submission from Taiwan's Taipei Zoo - two recently hatched Great Argus chicks! Taipei Zoo keepers were concerned because the eggs were hatched February 7, just before Chinese New Year when visitorship to the Zoo is especially high and could prove disruptive to the new family. However after 26 days, two healthy Great Argus chicks were hatched and have quickly followed mom's lead, foraging for food, hopping up to perch next to mom in branches, and otherwise sticking close to mom's feet. This rare pheasant species, also called a phoenix throughout much of Asia, is known for elaborate courtship displays and monogamous relationships but struggles with habitat destruction and over-hunting throughout most of its range. 

Great Argus Hen and Chicks 3c

Great Argus Hen and Chicks 1Photo credits: Taipei Zoo

Wobbling Wood Partridge Babies!


The Minnesota Zoo welcomed its first babies of 2011 when two Crested Wood Partridge chicks or “roul roul” hatched on January 5. The Zoo is one of the most successful zoos in the United States for breeding/raising crested Wood Partridges. To ensure their health and safety, the tiny chicks are being cared for behind-the-scenes by the Zoo’s aviary staff. The chicks, which weighed approximately 12 grams at hatching, are continually gaining weight. Zoo keepers do not yet know the sex of the chicks. Since 1978 when the Minnesota Zoo opened, it has welcomed 234 chicks.

Photo credits: Minnesota Zoo

Four-day-old Quail Chick at Twycross Zoo

This tiny chick photographed moments ago at Twycross Zoo represents a recent clutch of quail chicks being raised with the aid of a heat lamp. The Zoo's quail hen has mysteriously ignored her first clutch of eggs, leaving the bird keeper no choice but to incubate it artificially. When they are a month old the chicks will be put in an apex in the aviary. The tiny chicks will be  monitored until they are big enough to look after themselves.





Fluffy Pheasant Chick

Eventually growing to a height of narly 3 ½ feet feet, this newborn Malayan Great Argus pheasant chick is only a couple of inches tall at the moment. Hatched May 13 at SeaWorld San Diego, a breeding pair of Great Argus pheasants can be seen by guests on behind-the-scenes tours at the marine-life park.

Pheasant chick at SeaWorld 1

Ready for take-off!

Pheasant chick at SeaWorld 2

Little feathers close-up

Pheasant Feathers Closeup

Although not currently endangered, the bird is considered threatened due to declining numbers in the wild.  The chick weighed only two ounces when it hatched.