Follow through the Encounters Area and you’ll discover the Hatchery and Nursery. Watch baby chicks cracking out of their eggs and new birds taking their first steps in the world.
There are quail, chicken and duck eggs all ready to hatch, as well as some rare and endangered eggs brought in from the park. The nursery is the perfect place to see the new-born chicks. Easter is a good time to visit to see all of these chicks hatching out.
The Hatchery continues the egg story of the Discovery Zone allowing families to see the baby chicks and hatching eggs up close. The Discovery Zone is full of lots of information. It also gives you the chance to watch the eggs hatching live and the baby chicks as they grow up. There will also be interactive sessions with Birdland’s keepers offering families the chance to ask questions and find out more. So be sure to check out that area as well as the Hatchery and Nursery.
Birdland has an active breeding programme and works extensively with zoos and bird collections around the world. These programs help scientists and conservationists throughout the world by ensuring the recovery of endangered species. It also preserves the existing gene pool and prevents inbreeding.
See below for more information on the eggs and artificial incubation.
- Size – normally relative to the size of the bird
- Shape – there is quite a variation from round to conical. The reason for this is usually down to habitat – for example the Guillemot, a cliff nesting seabird, lays a conical egg. If an egg then becomes dislodged it rolls in a circle to give more chance for the egg to stay on the narrow ledge
- Colour – Usually a form of camouflage when the adult bird leaves the nest. Some birds lay white eggs and these are normally hole nesting species or they cover their eggs so camouflage is not required.
- Number – Generally the smaller the bird – the more eggs are laid! The Rhea or Ostrich where the male sits on the eggs could be sat on a clutch of over 20-30 eggs as 3-4 females may lay in the same nest. A blue tit will lay 12-15 eggs, whereas a King Penguin will lay only one egg.
- Incubation –is the time it takes from sitting the egg till it hatches. This time span can vary from 12 – 84 days depending on the species.
Artficial Incubation in the Hatchery
Why Birdland sometimes artificially incubate eggs.
The bird-keepers will make decisions on taking eggs for artificial incubation based on:
- Inexperienced / unreliable parents (where possible half the clutch will be taken leaving the other half for the parent to gain experience)
- When the parent may be ill
- When it may be important to encourage a second clutch of eggs, the first clutch is taken away.
- Rare birds
Sometimes we hatch the eggs and rear the chicks and at other times for example the King Penguins – we keep the eggs in the incubator till the day before they due to hatch and then the egg will be returned to the parent. The parents will have been sitting on a dummy egg so are none the wiser and are best to rear the chick.