This week we are highlighting one of the most dedicated mothers in the park
The birds are widespread throughout their range which includes South Africa, Kenya, Burundi and parts of Congo. They are of least concern on the IUCN list.
As Hornbills go, they are medium-sized, with length between 58 and 65 cm (23 and 26 in). They have a large grey casque on the bill, which is smaller in females. The eyes are brown or red, with pink surrounding skin. They weigh between 0.45 and 1 kg (0.99 and 2.20 lb). Distinguishing features include an all-black back, white belly and white underwing coverts (in flight, wings present white tips), and red facial skin
Diet wise they are omnivorous, feeding on fruit and meat, including reptiles, crabs and small mammals. Our pair are fed daily on apple, tomato, grape, banana, mealworms and chick legs as well as treats such as boiled egg and other fruits. Care needs to be taken in their high fruit diet because of their susceptibility to excessive iron storage, which is similar to the excessive iron storage seen in the disease Care needs to be taken in their high fruit diet because of their susceptibility to excessive iron storage, which is similar to the excessive iron storage seen in the disease hemochromatosis in humans in humans
Breeding wise is where the female shows her dedication. Like many Hornbills during nesting, the female will seal herself into a hole in a tree with a gap just big enough for her beak. The seal is compromised of mud and saliva and the gap is just large enough so that the male can feed her but small enough to prevent predators such as snakes getting into the nest. She will lay between one and five eggs which hatch after around 30 days. It takes around 50 days before the young are feathered and thats when the female breaks out from her nest
The pair we keep are currently investigating their nest site and it is usually late April when they start to nest. As yet, we have still to have chicks but they are producing eggs which is the first stage.
News from the park this week…..
The new arrivals have been keeping us entertained this week with the Sulcata Tortoise regularly escaping their pen within the main Desert House. This is not a problem as long as they are under the heat lights over night. The Emu (1 male, 2 female) have also settled pretty well.
We were joined yesterday by a new pair of African Spoonbill, who arrived from Blackpool Zoo. We sent a male in the opposite direction and we now have 2 pairs
The Grey Peacock Pheasants have produced another 2 eggs. These will be left with the birds this time to see what they can do. One of the earlier eggs was removed from the incubator as it was infertile but the other is looking good
The 4 Blacksmith Plover eggs have been placed in the incubator as the birds were not incubating particularly well
The Red Collared Doves have an egg in the Desert House
The Southern Lapwings are busy making a nest scrape
The Kookaburras have broken into their new nest box
The new pair of Western Plantain Eaters have been moved out into the Bared Faced Curassow aviary with no problems
Hybrid Macaw Diamond finally is back out after the storm damage, the fence and new perches were erected this week
Wildlife wise Chiffchaff are regularly calling from Marshmouth and the Lesser Redpolls are still about. There has been a lot of noise from the Kingfishers, I suspect at least 3 to be in the area. A Mistle Thrush was an unexpected bonus this morning
As always, thanks for reading and happy Mothers Day