Archive for the 'Birds' Category



Happy Birthday Margaret!

The National Aquarium is celebrating a very special birthday today: Margaret, our blue hyacinth macaw, is turning 24!

Hyacinth macaws are one of the largest species of parrot. They are beautiful, smart, and can even mimic human speech. Margaret can say one word – “Hello” (and she says it a lot)!

Hello!

Macaws have four toes—two toes face forward and two face backward. These feet are called zygodactyl, and are great for perching on branches, climbing in trees, holding food and even playing with toys. Margaret’s favorite toys are actually old phone books! She hold them and tears out the pages one by one with her feet and beak.

Although Margaret is a BLUE hyacinth macaw, did you know that her feathers are actually a shade of grey? Light reflects off the top feathers in such a way that they appear bright blue. This is typical of most blue-colored birds. Her feathers are so sensitive to light, that she appears greenish when she’s wet!

Blue hyacinth macaw feathers from different angles appear to be different colors

Macaws eat primarily nuts from native palms, such as acuri and bocaiuva palms, but they also eat fruits and vegetables. Their beaks are strong enough to crack open coconuts. Fresh coconut is Margaret’s favorite treat!

Margaret is getting some very special presents for her birthday today (hint: it rhymes with shmoconut!)

Say happy birthday to Margaret and watch her open presents this afternoon at our 2:30pm Animal Encounter! 

Animal Update – September 21

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Green wing doves in Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

We’ve introduced green wing doves to our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit this week.

Our green wing dove and her chicks!

 Our dove has imprinted on humans and so she is much friendlier and less easily spooked than the rest of our dove population. They can easily be seen roaming our exhibit!

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

A Blue View: Fall Bird Migration

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

September 20, 2012: Fall Bird Migration

Listen to John discuss Fall bird migration in this week’s A Blue View

Summer is on its way out, and the fall bird migration has already begun. Some species begin to move through Maryland as early as July, heading south where resources are more plentiful in the upcoming months; many more will hang on until November or December. For others, the Chesapeake Bay is their final winter destination.

Whether you are a serious birder or simply enjoy watching the parade of visitors pass by, this is an important time to do your part to support migrating birds. Here’s what you can do to support migratory birds on their journey:

  • Plant native plants that provide food and shelter
  • Provide a water source year-round
  • Limit pesticide and herbicide use
  • Keep your cats indoors

For more tips on how to transform your backyard into a haven for these beautiful birds, click here.

Animal Update – August 17

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

New baby screaming piha!

We have a new baby screaming piha in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit!

Screaming piha chick

Our screaming piha chick is the first to be born in captivity in North America. After a month of patient waiting by our rain forest aviculturists and exhibit curators, the baby chick hatched at the end of July. Our staff is very excited to be able to share the news of this successful birth!

Very little is known about the biology of the screaming piha when it comes to reproduction, and we hope to learn and share with others in the community as much as we can about these Amazonian birds.

Laying eggs can be difficult for pihas due to their poor nest-building skills. They create tiny nests. Ornithologist (the branch of zoology that studies birds) Alexander Skutch once described a piha nest as being “the most meager arboreal nest that I had seen.” Our female’s nest was about 2 inches by 2 inches and was constructed of curling vines from around our habitat. To help support the structure of the nest, our staff added two additional branches. Soon the female began to sit on her nest and after a couple of days we had our first spotting of a light brown, perfectly camouflaged egg!

In the wild, camouflage is an essential part of the piha’s survival. As a single parent, the female piha often has to leave to gather food while the chick relies completely on camouflage to stay safe in the nest. Through this hatching, we’ve learned that piha chicks lay motionless with their wings at their side while the mother is gone. The chick doesn’t peep or beg (behaviors we traditionally associate with baby birds), so as to not give away its location to any predators.

Screaming piha chick camouflaging itself

In the last month, our baby piha chick has grown tremendously. Thanks to a great mom, the chick has had plenty to eat and is completely feathered. Our new family is currently under the observation of our staff and is not on display yet in our Rain Forest exhibit, but we can’t wait for you to meet our new addition!

Animal Update – August 17

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Grosbeak back in the Rain Forest

We’ve reintroduced our male grosbeak to our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit this week. He has joined our female and guests can now see them flying throughout the forest!

Our grosbeaks are hard to miss with their beautiful yellow coloring.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!


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