Week 7 – Love is in the air

As this Thursday is Valentines Day I thought I’d write today about pairing the birds up.  At this time of year we are busy trying to find mates for some of the single birds, or new homes for birds we want to move on to other collections.  As many of our species are part of breeding programmes it’s very important to keep genetic diversity.
Some of our current lonely hearts include:
Black Swan – male would like to meet female of similar age.  Enjoys swimming, chasing the keepers and lettuce
Palawan Peacock Pheasant – male would like to meet female to share aviary.  Must enjoy tail displays
Stanley Crane – female would like a male to join her in courtship dances
Male King Penguins seek females to join male dominated group.  Must like fish, swimming and public displays every afternoon
Female Lovebirds – looking for males to share sunflower seed with, must like eggs
We work closely with other zoos and private breeders to move birds between collections, almost always on a loan basis, or as a donation.  Most zoos circulate their wanted/available lists amongst themselves so we can see what is around.  Many species are part of breeding programmes and their studbook keepers may be able to help source birds to pair.
Where possible we try to collect the birds as this enables us to see what set up they have been kept in at their previous home.  It’s also a chance to meet with their keepers and discuss diet, welfare and pick up any little tips and info on the bird.  There is paperwork to complete when moving stock as well, from animal transport sheets up to import/export certificates for species coming from abroad.  The previous holder of the bird will also forward all the birds records (date of birth, ID, parentage, rearing etc)
cassowary arriving 3 2 - Week 7 - Love is in the air
Cassowary arriving from Holland, February 2012
Upon arrival the new birds will receive a full health check (weight, feather condition, feet, beak & eyes) and we can also ring the bird if unrung.  We will also take the chance to worm the bird before placing the bird in quarantine for a minimum of a week.  During this time the new bird goes on a course of medication and we can monitor its appetite and behaviour.
tawny frogmouth 4 2 - Week 7 - Love is in the air
Tawny Frogmouth in quarantine
Once quarantine is complete it is time to start pairing the bird with its new partner.  With some species the first date can be very straight forward and the birds hit it off straight away.  These tend to be the more sociable species such as penguin and flamingo.  Other species such as hornbills, touracos and pheasants may take a more gradual introduction.  We may start them off in neighbouring aviaries where they can check each other out but not come into direct contact.  Sometimes this is away from the aviary in which we are intending to house them in as one bird may become territorial.  After a few days we will start to place the birds together, under close supervision.  This may initially be for a couple of minutes and as time passes we will allow them together for longer amounts of time.
img 3484 2 - Week 7 - Love is in the air
New penguins await their welcoming committee
Once settled we can then start to think about trying to encourage breeding behaviour.  This will be through changes in diet and providing appropriate nest sites and material  We’ll cover this at a later date.
In other news
The Black Necked Swans are now sitting tight on their nest, we know they have at least 3 eggs and expect at least one more
A pair of Humboldts are showing signs of getting ready to nest.  Chloe (a male!) & Myrtle have been nest building and mating, with Myrtle refusing to leave the nest box in the past 2 days
The Green Imperial Pigeon egg was infertile
2 female Crowned Plovers are due to leave for Marwell Wildlife tomorrow
We had more snow Sunday night/Monday morning but nothing too deep/serious
3 Red Kites were seen in unison over the park on Monday with reports of up to 10 seen over the weekend.  Jay, Nuthatch, Treecreeper & Long Tailed Tit have all also been seen
As its half term we have been doing Flamingo talks as well as Meet a Keeper, with Kayto taking centre stage
That’s it for this week.  If you have any feedback or have any topics you want to hear about over the next few weeks then please let us know

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