Posts Tagged 'birds'



Puffin chicks hatched in Sea Cliffs exhibit!

Just weeks ago, we welcomed two new puffin chicks to our Sea Cliffs exhibit!

Back in 2006, we were happy to report the first successful hatching of a puffin chick at the National Aquarium. The parents, Victor and Vixen, presented us with another healthy chick in 2010, later named Vinny.  On June 28, 2011, they hatched their third little puffin! The chick weighed 40 grams at the time of the hatch, and weighed 90 grams at 8 days old. This follows the weight pattern of his older brother.

Just a little over a week later, on July 6, first-time puffin parents Tex and Kingster hatched their own chick, making this the Aquarium’s first year for multiple puffin hatchings. This chick weighed 39.4 grams at the time of the hatch and 168 grams at 12 days old.

For the next several weeks, the young puffins will remain in their burrows while they are cared for by their parents. Visitors may see the parents bringing fish into the nest burrows, which are located in the far left side of the exhibit.

When they are about 45 days old, they should begin exploring life outside of the burrow and will be visible to the public. Check back here in the upcoming weeks for updates and naming opportunities!

Here is a video of the first chick being weighed just days ago:

Curious about what it takes to care for puffins? Be an early bird to the Aquarium on August 28 for a talk with one of our aviculturists, from 7:45–9 a.m. Light breakfast fare will be provided. Cost: $30, includes Aquarium admission. Member price: $8. Reserve your ticket by calling 410-727-3474.

New chicks on the block!

From Ken Howell and Deb Dial, Rain Forest staff -

We are happy to introduce the newest members of our Rain Forest bird collection: two bay-headed tanager chicks!

Newly hatched bay-headed tanagers! Photo by Alex Zelazo-Kessler

This is the first successful rearing of bay-headed tanagers in our Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit. Rearing small passerine birds in a mixed species exhibit (such as ours) is extraordinarily difficult, so we are very proud of this success! It has taken several years of intuitive problem solving by our aviculture staff to reach this point. In case you are wondering, aviculture is the practice of keeping and breeding birds and the culture that forms around them. 

The goal of our aviculture staff is to provide an environment in the Rain Forest that promotes natural behaviors, which we hope ultimately leads to parent-reared, on-exhibit reproductive success.

Because we are attempting to breed on exhibit, the birds here experience many of the same challenges that chicks and parents experience in the wild. We have encountered problems with other species predating on the eggs and have had to deal with newly hatched chicks and their parents selecting inappropriate food items. Perhaps the greatest difficulty has been that there are very few opportunities for staff to learn from each breeding event (usually just two to three events a year). 

The breeding success is due to a combination of adaptations, which have been implemented one at a time over the last several years to judge the effectiveness of each change. Those adaptations have included the creation of “exclusion boxes” to prevent nest interference, the introduction of new food items over time, and the installation of nest cameras to maximize our potential to learn more about the breeding processes!

Our two new chicks have been named “Billy” and “Kline” in honor of the Aquarium’s Facilities director, Bill Kline. He was of great assistance in delaying a project to repair the Rain Forest deck, which was scheduled to begin the very day the eggs hatched! Though the nest is about 2-3 feet away from the intended work space, we wanted to give the chicks some undisturbed time to become acclimated to their new world.

The actual gender of the young birds is currently unknown and will be determined by DNA analysis at a later date. The chicks, along with their parents, are currently residing in the corner Howdy cage where the young birds can practice their flying skills. It is our plan to release the new chicks into the Rain Forest exhibit once they have become experienced fliers.

We have had success breeding other species, including Red-capped Cardinals and White-tailed Trogons. In fact, we have led the industry in White-tailed Trogon breeding and have been able to provide many other institutions with information to help them do the same. We hope that with continued and consistent success with our small birds on exhibit, we will become a leader in tanager breeding as well!

Name our new puffin chick!

On June 24, we welcomed the arrival of a puffin hatchling! This was just the second successful puffin chick to hatch at the National Aquarium. During breeding season, puffins lay only one egg in a clutch. If that egg is crushed or infertile, they may replace the egg, but generally puffins lay just one egg and raise one chick a year. puffin chick

The Atlantic puffin hatched after a 37-day incubation period. During that time, the parents–named Victor and Vixen–took turns incubating the egg by nestling it between their body and wing to keep it warm. Upon hatching, the chick weighed just 40 grams. For the first month, the parents cared for the chick in their burrow, while the Aquarium aviculturists monitored the chick’s growth and health carefully.

It is always best to keep young animals with their parents whenever possible. In this case, the parents did a great job helping the young chick grow and learn how to be a puffin! After one month, the chick weighed more than 350 grams and was eating 10-15 fish a day.

Continue reading ‘Name our new puffin chick!’

Celebrate the songs of spring

Mother Nature has subtle ways of reminding us that winter is quickly coming to an end. The trees are beginning to bud, and early bulbs are peeking through the earth where just a few weeks ago snow was piled high. Mother Nature is also telling us to listen. Do you hear the birds and frogs singing? Yes, frogs. They are quite good singers!

Frogs are emerging to announce the new season. Each winter frogs go into hibernation. Wood frogs actually freeze, but do not die. As the temperature drops, a wood frog will bury itself. It stops breathing, its heart stops beating, and the water in its body turns to ice. Come spring, these frogs are the first to emerge, as early as February and March, even with ice still on the ponds. Listen for the males calling. It sounds something like quacking or clucking.

The spring peepers are the next group to begin their chorus, and they are extremely vocal. This small frog, the size of a thumb nail, can produce sounds louder than a vacuum cleaner. An entire chorus of peepers (120dB) can top the decibel level of a rock concert (115 dB)! Though nocturnal, the peeper gets its name from its call. It peeps once a second!

Continue reading ‘Celebrate the songs of spring’

A new bird joins the flock

The scarlet ibis is easy to find in the Aquarium\'s Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit.Staff members in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest welcomed a new scarlet ibis to their collection of birds earlier this week. This beautiful South American bird came to the National Aquarium from the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

The scarlet ibis is hard to miss! Adults are bright red or scarlet, with somewhat lighter shading on the head, neck, and underparts. The long legs of this wading bird are pink, and the toes are partially webbed. They use their long, curved, pinkish-brown bill to probe the mudflats, shallow water, and grasses in search of food.

 

 


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