2nd of May 2014 – Species Spotlight Red Fronted Macaw

The spotlight this week falls on
Red Fronted Macaw
Ara rubrogenys
Listed as Appendix 1 by CITES, the Red Fronted Macaw is one of the most endangered species in our collection, being close to extinction. They are endemic to s small region of Bolivia and have a wild population of between 1,000 to 5,000 birds. Habitat destruction is the main downfall of the species but illegal trapping for sale and being viewed as a pest has led to major declines.
Red Fronted Macaws are a medium sized Macaw at a length of approximately 60 cm. Much of the body is olive green except for red/orange forehead and shoulders and blue wing tips. Males and females look alike with juveniles duller in colour and lacking some red.
Diet wise the birds can feed individually, in pairs or as part of a larger flock. They tend to move from preferred roosting areas to feeding areas at the start and end of each day. They take a range of seeds and fruit but also take crops in the wild, leading to them being viewed as a pest by local farmers.
Pairs will nest either by themselves or as part of a loose colony. In the wild this will be in cliff face crevices but here, they happily take to the nest box provided. Usually 2 eggs are laid although our pair have been known to regularly lay 4 eggs in a clutch. We can usually tell when they are coming into condition as the birds ‘flush’ the skin around the beak and eyes.
Incubation of the eggs last for 26 days, typical of most Macaws, and the eggs are white in colour. The chicks hatch nearly bald, except for some fine down, and the eyes remain closed for 10-15 days. The parents regurgitate food for the young who gain their full adult plumage at around the 3 month stage.
We currently house 4 Red Fronted Macaw, with the adult pair (originally from Twycross), a young male breed in 2012 and last years youngster, recently sexed as female. The birds are managed at a European level breeding programme and we are advised where to send birds that we have bred. The birds are fed once a day on a parrot seed mix and a range of fruit. It is around this time of year that the female starts to lay and she has been seen in the box recently. A definite sign that eggs are present is when the male joins her in the box and the noise level increase whenever Rob is in the aviary feeding and cleaning.
This weeks news…..
The biggest bit of news is undoubtedly the Pelicans laying eggs. This is a first for me and I have found no records to suggest that we have ever had Pelican eggs before. At the time of writing we have 2 eggs, both of which are in the incubators for safe keeping. The parents, the 2 birds who arrived late last year from Flamingoland, have been given a dummy egg which they have accepted. There is a chance of a 3rd egg which we will leave with them. Incubation lasts for 30 days so we should hopefully have an idea whats going on by next weeks blog.
Other eggs this week include the Kookaburras incubating at least 3, the Grey Peacock Pheasants have laid 2 more eggs, the Burrowing Owls have 2 eggs at present and the Roul Roul Partridges also have 2 eggs
The remaining Humboldt Penguin egg was removed from the incubator as it was infertile
The Military Macaws have laid eggs this week as well. We do not wish to breed from this pair as previous chicks have had health issues so no nest box has been provided. However, they decided to lay their eggs on the floor so 3 eggs have been removed
2 female Turtle Doves departed to a private breeder
Our female Trumpeter Hornbill had to be put to sleep this week after breaking her leg. Unfortunately the break was so severe there was no chance of saving the leg
The Red Winged Starlings, Azure Winged Magpies and Grey Treepies are all showing signs of nest building, as is our single male Hammerkop.
The Coscoroba Swans are becoming aggressive towards the keepers so hopefully eggs to follow, although no nest building as yet
The Avocets continue to call and squabble amongst themselves and the one male Ruff continues to develop his mane of feathers which he will use to impress the female
Several of the King Penguins are moulting, with Squeaky, Seth & Oscar joining Bob, Bill, Missy & Spike in this annual precursor to breeding.
Wildlife wise nothing majorly unusual this week, a House Sparrow was an uncommon sighting and the Goldcrest and Treecreepers are making lots of noise. The first Rook fledglings have been seen
Sorry for the lack of pictures this week, the website is playing me up today

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