It’s been a good week this week as several of the eggs that the birds and ourselves were incubating have hatched. This means that the staff are busy hand rearing and bags can be seen under eyes!
The first of the eggs to hatch since the last blog was our Northern Helmeted Curassow. We have been incubating this one ourselves as the adults have a history of smashing their eggs. The chick hatched out on Friday and after drying out over a 24 hour period in the hatcher has been moved to the keeper area for hand rearing. Curassows are a member of the pheasant family and most pheasant chicks will feed themselves almost immediately. This is not the case with this little guy/girl so we are regularly presenting the chick with chick crumb, fruit and greens which it takes from the hand. The youngster has had its wings taped as it was starting to show early signs of ‘angel wing’, a slight twist of the wing. By taping the wing we will be able to remedy this.
Also on Friday the Military Macaw egg hatched. The helpless chick weighed in at a tiny 24 grams and is completely dependant on the keepers for food and our brooder for warmth. This little one is being feed 7-10 times a day on a special parrot rearing formula, with the first feed at 6am, going through to midnight. Baby sitting duties are being shared amongst the keepers and will be a long process, particularly as we want to use the bird long term in flying displays.
The next new arrival was a most pleasant surprise. The Humboldt egg that Chloe & Myrtle were incubating was a week overdue come Sunday and when I went to remove the egg, a quiet cheeping could be heard. On further inspection a small hole (half the size of a 5p) could be seen with a small beak tip protruding through. The egg was placed back under mum and by Monday the chick had fully hatched. A quick health check was given to make sure the yolk had been fully absorbed cleanly and the chick is back in the box. Dad has some experience of rearing chicks having got 2 chicks to 6 weeks of age last year before they were both lost to an infection, mum is a first timer. Because of the loss last year we are currently giving the chick a 3 day course of anti-biotics to ward off any threat of infection. We administer this orally.
In the Ibis aviary both the Sacred & Waldrapp Ibis have hatched chicks over the weekend, with the Sacreds having 2 chicks (with 3 more nests to follow). The Waldrapp certainly have 2 chicks, possibly 3.
The Yellow Shouldered Amazons also have at least one chick in the box. Again we would like to use this for future displays so will be removing the chick for hand rearing next week.
Yesterday saw more hatchings with 2 Black Necked Swan cygnets emerging. We removed 7 eggs from the adults last week after losing previous chicks and although we are hand rearing, these will be kept as wild as possible so they can move on to other collections for breeding. 3 more eggs look promising.
Finally, 3 Roul Roul Partridge chicks also hatched yesterday and are running around in the former Toucan House with mum & dad keeping a close eye.
We will continue to keep you updated as the chicks develop. There’s a long way to go for them all & I’m a little bit wary of the ‘facebook curse’. Any time a chick went on facebook last year, it didn’t survive so we will be keeping this on the hush.
In other news:
We held our first ever familarisation day on Tuesday. Many local B & Bs, hotels & businesses were invited to come and have a look around, meet the staff (& animals) & see some of the talks. The aim of this is to spread the Birdland word, its much easier to recommend us if you know what we can offer
Spike, our King Penguin, celebrated his 6th birthday on Sunday with a special fish cake
The Chaco Owl chick continues to thrive, it is now getting adventurous, running around at the Encouner Zone during Meet a Keeper and jumping on to the edge of its box at every chance. Flying school will not be far away.
A female Black Swan has arrived from Prinknash Abbey. Attempts to introduce her to the male have not gone very well. The male is so territorial that he has been hassling her (and staff). Both birds are currently off show in an introduction pen where no squabbling has been observed. We will then slowly introduce them out on to the river in the next few weeks
The Snowy Owls have 4 eggs
The Tawny Frogmouths have an egg
The Lilac Breasted Rollers have been displaying and investigating the nest box
The Post Mortem on the Coscoroba Swan female showed cancer
Highlights of the wildlife have been a Greater Spotted Woodpecker nest with at least one very noisy, demanding chick and a Mistle Thrush chasing Jackdaws and Rooks, presumably defending a nest