An Update from our Bird Section!
August 4, 2010 § Leave a comment
There has been plenty going on recently on Edinburgh Zoo’s bird section! This weeks blog is about just a few of the things that have happened over the last few weeks.
It looks like the Chilean flamingos could once again produce some chicks following the record breeding season last year when they reared six chicks to maturity; a record for the zoo. Five eggs have been laid so far this year. Something that has never happened before in two consecutive breeding attempts at Edinburgh Zoo! This breeding season was not expected to be as successful as last year because parents who raise chicks one year will not usually breed in the next breeding season. This is because the strain of raising chicks leaves them a little drained…something that can be quite apparent as they lose their pink colouration and become almost white.
The birds with eggs can be seen sitting on their nests at the bottom of the flamingo enclosure, both parents will help to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. The nests are made out of mud, at the beginning of the breeding season keepers helped to start them off by building a few nests and the flamingos have since added to these themselves.
The first of these eggs is due to hatch out soon so it’s an exciting time as keepers wait to see if this year’s eggs produce any chicks!
Victoria Crowned Pigeon Chick
The koala enclosure is always a favourite with visitors as Edinburgh Zoo is the only collection in the UK to house them but next time you go to visit them keep an eye out for our recently fledged Victoria crowned pigeon in the Australasian walkthrough aviary, right next door to our Koalas. At just over a month old the chick has now fledged the nest!
Victoria crowned pigeons are the largest pigeon species, they are blue in colour with a crest of feathers on their head. Their native habitat is the forests of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea but the remaining wild populations are under threat from hunting and the logging of the forests they inhabit.
Birds making milk? Pigeons and flamingos have an adaptation for raising their young which is rather unusual amongst birds; they produce a highly nutritious ‘crop milk’ to give their young a head start when they first hatch. Males and females have this ability and the milk is produced in the bird’s crop (a part of the bird’s oesophagus) and fed to the chicks through regurgitation.
Waldrapp Ibis Chick
A Waldrapp ibis chick has also recently fledged the nest. This is fantastic news for the conservation of this species which is listed on the IUCN red list as critically endangered. (the highest level of threat that can be assigned to a species before it becomes extinct in the wild). This status means that the captive breeding of this species is becoming increasingly important and reintroduction attempts are already underway but are made more complicated by the fact that these birds are migratory and so need to learn to migrate!
The waldrapp ibis is now mainly only found in Morocco but their range once extended right around the Mediterranean Sea and up to the Alps. Threats to the remaining populations include disturbance, building and farming of their habitat.
Sun Bears have a new Neighbour!
As we all know the sun bears are settling in well in their new enclosure but they aren’t the only animals that are now on show in the area! The sun bear aviaries (just at the back of the sun bear enclosure) have become home to another animal native to Malaysia; a male Malayan Black Hornbill has just been moved in! These birds have large beaks which enable them to kill poisonous animals without being harmed; however the main part of their diet consists of fruit. Next time you come to the zoo make sure you get a look at this fascinating looking bird, he may even have some feathery neighbours next time you visit as a couple of other birds native to Malaysia are also planned to move into the aviaries soon!
There is plenty more bird news to follow so make sure you keep reading the zoo blog for more updates!