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.
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!’
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’
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.
Published May 7, 2008
Tags: birds, imdb
Join a flock of Aquarium staff and visitors on May 10, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as we observe International Migratory Bird Day. Enjoy crafts in celebration of birds that fly from one region to another, and participate in indoor and outdoor (weather permitting) activities showing the lifestyle and habitat of local migratory birds including the Baltimore oriole, Maryland’s state bird. Plus, meet Puffin, the Aquarium’s mascot, and get an eyeful of the many other amazing bird species that the Aquarium cares for.
Scientists have recorded a major shift in the ranges of many bird species that they attribute to global warming. Recent studies suggest that by the year 2100, there will no longer be oriole birds in Maryland.
Increases in temperature affect when and how birds perform certain behaviors. Many bird species use changes in weather as cues to migrate or nest; so as our region steadily gets warmer, birds begin to fly north or mate earlier in the year than they used to. Depending on the adaptability of the species, these behaviors may fall out of sync with the availability of food sources, which could lead to drastic population declines.
Global warming is also partly responsible for the rise in our sea level because of melting glaciers and polar ice caps. In the Chesapeake Bay area alone, the water level could rise 19 inches over the next 90 years, flooding small islands, threatening essential coastal habitat, and putting migratory waterfowl (like ducks) and shorebirds (like herons) at risk.
The good news is that there are things we can all do to slow down the effects of global warming and protect our natural resources. Visit aqua.org to learn how, or join us at the Aquarium on May 10, 2008 to help celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.