Posts Tagged 'rain forest'



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!

Awesome adventures in Costa Rica!

From Laura Bankey, Director of Conservation

Checking in from beautiful Costa Rica! The Costa Rican Tourism Board have been wonderful hosts and have planned some pretty amazing excursions for our group, winners of the Get Going Costa Rica sweepstakes and representatives from National Aquarium and the Greater Los Angeles Zoo.

Our adventure started off with a trip to one of the central valley’s active volcanos. The Irazu volcano is more than 11,000 feet above sea level. We drove through some of Costa Rica’s richest agricultural lands with fields full of onions, potatoes, and mustard. On the way to the top, we passed through a cloud forest, home to a large variety of plants and animals especially adapted to the high altitude and high humidity. Once at the top, it was just a short hike to the active crater. Spectacular!!

We were standing on the rim, and could see the bright-green rainwater collected by the crater more than 1,000 feet down. The landscape is gray for as far as your eyes can see. The volcanic ash has covered just about everything in sight. The last time the volcano erupted was 1994, and some of the vegetation is just coming back. It’s a stark reminder of how our world is constantly changing.

Much of our afternoon was spent traveling down to the South Pacific coast to position us for a wonderful day spent at Corvocado National Park. The most popular way to get to the park is by boat. Our boat met us at our hotel in Sierpe on Tuesday morning. We traveled down the Sierpe River through acres and acres of mangrove forests. What a sight! Once we hit the mouth of the river, we headed out into the ocean along the coast of the Osa Peninsula toward the park headquarters.

Our main activity at the park was a three-hour hike through the rain forest. What an adventure!  We weren’t more than 50 feet inside the rain forest when we saw trogans, white-faced coati, a three-toed sloth, and howler monkeys.

As we traveled deeper and deeper, we saw frogs, tarantulas, and macaws.  It was awesome to discover just how closely the National Aquarium’s Upland Tropical Rain Forest compares to the real thing! During the boat trip back to Sierpe we also saw monkeys, a boa, and a humpback whale.

All in all, a very good day for wildlife viewing!


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