14th of March 2014 – Species Spotlight – Grey Peacock Pheasant

Grey Peacock Pheasant 6 Small 1 - 14th of March 2014 - Species Spotlight - Grey Peacock Pheasant

This week we concentrate on one of our first egg layers of the year
Grey Peacock Pheasant
Polyplectron bicalcaratum
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Native to South East Asia and parts of India, where they frequent areas of lowland.  They are the National bird of Myanmar and numbers are doing OK in the wild, they are listed as least concern although they are a CITES II species, meaning there is a ban on the trade of wild caught birds.
Diet wise they feed on a variety of seeds, fruits and insects.
The name obviously orginates from the similarities with the Peacock, with both sexes adorned with blue eye spots.  Males are larger and more brightly coloured than the females.
Breeding wise, courtship is as the name suggests, with the male fanning his tail to impress the hen.  2 eggs are laid in a sparse scrape on the ground and incubated by the hen.  Eggs are off white in colour and incubation lasts for roughly 21 to 22 days.  The chicks hatch a golden brown colour and are active immediately, able to feed themselves under the watchful eye of mum.
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We currently have a pair of Grey Peacock Pheasant plus a juvenile from last year.  The pair are housed in the aviaries along from the Penguins where they are kept with Red Crested Touraco, Madagascan Teal & Bronzewing Pigeon.  The birds are fed once a day and from November to February shut away each evening into the aviary shed with heat.
This week has seen 2 eggs laid by the pair, which we have had to remove.  The male has a history of destroying eggs and was seen rolling an egg from the nest towards the stream so both eggs have gone in the incubator for safe keeping.
Indeed, Spring has definitely sprung this week as aside from Grey Peacock Pheasant eggs, we have also had 3 other species producing eggs.
The highlight was a surprise egg from Humboldt Penguin Millie.  She had been previously dispossessed of her nest site so decided on Wednesday morning to lay an egg in the open.  We have removed the egg as it was on a major route for the Kings and we didn’t want it being broken.  The egg weighs in at around 100 grams and will be incubated for 40 days.  Millies partner appears to have been Ron.  We are also fully expecting Hagrid & Luna to produce eggs soon as a lovely nest is being constructed in their box.
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The Blacksmith Plovers laid their first egg yesterday afternoon
The Tawny Frogmouths were found to have an egg this morning
Morris the Hill Mynah has been moved outside to the finch block of aviaries
The Coscoroba Swans have been moved to the Caribbean Flamingo section of river as their current stretch of river is still flowing top quickly
The Black Breasted Thrush have been moved out to one of the Boulevard aviaries
The female Burrowing Owl was also moved out, joining the new male in her original aviary
The White Naped Cranes, Southern Ground Hornbills and Crowned Cranes have all been vocalising this week
The Kookaburras have been checking out potential nest site.  Unfortunately they decided that bashing through into the Turtle Dove aviary was their main goal so we have had some repairs to do!
King Penguin Norman is fattening for his moult
Work is continuing apace around the park, particularly in the Discovery Zone where we are working at full steam to build our new hatchery.  Here we will display hatching eggs from Quail, chickens and ducks.
Building work is also ongoing on the Rhea paddock, getting it ready for the imminent arrival of three Emu.  The Rheas will move over to beside the Crane pens
Wildlife wise the first toad of the year has been seen.  Several birds are now showing signs of nesting, particularly the Rooks, and several Buzzards have been seen.  Highlight was a pair of Pied Wagtail, unusual for us as we usually get Greys instead
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