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Category — Birds

Visit the Zoo’s EcOhio Farm and Buy Native Plants

On May 14, we invite you to come out to the Zoo’s EcOhio Farm and Wetland. Learn about the land’s history and take a piece of it home with you as we host our annual Native Plant Sale from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Nearly 200 species of native wildflowers, trees and shrubs, including those that you see throughout the EcOhio ecosystem, will be for sale. Cash, check, and credit card will be accepted.

Coneflower (Photo: Brian Jorg)

Coneflower (Photo: Brian Jorg)

Over the past few years, we’ve been hard at work on this off-site property formerly known as Bowyer Farm. This nearly 530-acre site in Warren County now offers a 24-acre reclaimed wetland, a 100-acre organic farm, newly established honeybee hives, and an abundance of birds and other wildlife that has moved in or stopover during their migration.

Gadwall spotted at EcOhio wetlands (Photo: Brian Jorg)

Gadwall spotted at EcOhio wetlands (Photo: Brian Jorg)

You can also learn about Pollen Nation and what this group has been doing to support pollinator conservation. Fifteen new beehives on EcOhio Farm are home to thousands of honeybees that help pollinate the entire ecosystem. Observe honeybees up close through an observation frame, and learn how these busy creatures keep us, and their hives, fed.



Zoo staff and master gardeners will be on hand throughout the day to share how this unique ecosystem is all connected and how you can recreate it in your own backyard. See the farm, hike the wetland, and learn about the Zoo’s future plans for this thriving oasis in the middle of the suburbs.

EcOhio Farm is located at 2210 north  Mason-Montgomery Road, Lebanon, OH 45036.

*Please note this is a working farm and ecosystem. Bathrooms may not be available.


May 9, 2016   No Comments

More than Plumage Deep: Animal Attraction

Guest blogger: Kristina Meek, Education/Wild Encounters

The bright plumage of a peacock is so unmistakable that we use it as a metaphor for showing off to prospective romantic partners. When a male peacock unfurls its brilliant tail feathers, you can’t help but stop and stare. When you walk through the Zoo, you’ll almost certainly encounter one of our male peacocks, crooning his relationship status or proudly displaying his colorful fan. He might even try to distract you from other, less colorful animals, by inserting himself between you and them! (If you’d like to learn the cool way that the structure of the peacock’s feathers produces the glorious colors, check out these findings from 2003.)

Look at me! (Photo: Cassandre Crawford)

Look at me! (Photo: Cassandre Crawford)

It’s spring, which means mating season for many animals, so it’s a great time to notice how animals preen, prance or patter in hopes of propagating their species.

We talked about mating signals during a recent  Zoo Troop session for 6th through 8th graders called “Be Mine.” The students observed birds, fish, and other creatures, learning about physical traits, actions, sounds, and scents that animals use to say, “Relationship Status: Available.”

We giggled a bit at the similarities between the human animal and some of the others out there. Humans choose clothing, hairstyles, perfumes, and workouts often with the goal of attracting a mate. Is a rock star strutting and belting a song so different from a male bird calling to passing females? Are our fashion choices so different from scales or plumage? We even studied the bower bird, which spends weeks building an elaborate “bachelor pad” complete with bling that he painstakingly gathers from his environment. Do you know anyone like that? There’s no doubt, we have a lot in common with wild animals.

John shows off his luxurious mane. (Photo: DJJAM)

John shows off his luxurious mane. (Photo: DJJAM)

An animal’s tools of attraction indicate that animal’s fitness, meaning the quality of its genetic material. Picking a mate who is strong, capable, and beautiful tends to mean their offspring will be the same. A lion with a lush mane is better protected during battles with rivals. A brighter pink flamingo has chowed on more shrimp. Some animals, from spiders to penguins, bring each other gifts, which may demonstrate the hunting prowess needed to feed young.

Lucky for humans, we’re able to see beneath the surface. What if you could only choose a partner based on outward signs or on what might be considered an ideal physical appearance? That would limit your choices considerably, and think of all that you might miss out on. We get to consider a person’s values and personality, likes and dislikes. We also have differing ideas about what is attractive. You might think someone is adorable who your friend finds positively plain.

As you explore the Zoo this spring, notice the mating rituals going on among the animals — even the human ones. Take a minute to consider how we’re alike and different from our fellow residents of planet Earth. And keep an eye out for the results of all this mating… Zoo babies!

One of the cheetah cubs in the Nursery now! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

One of the cheetah cubs in the Nursery now! (Photo: Mark Dumont)


May 2, 2016   No Comments

Ohio Young Birders Club Explores Cincinnati Zoo


This month, the Cincinnati Zoo was excited to welcome the Southwest Chapter of Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s Ohio Young Birders Club!


The Ohio Young Birders Club is a program developed by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) in 2006 to encourage, educate, and empower our youth conservation leaders. Each month student members can participate in field trips to exciting places in Ohio. In addition to visiting cool places in Ohio, many students participate in service projects focused on habitat restoration and other cool projects such as creating bird feeding areas at their local school.


Goals of the Club

  • Create a community for young birders throughout Ohio ~ and beyond!
  • Promote volunteering and contributing through service projects
  • Foster an interest in natural history and encourage young people to spend more time outside
  • Introduce young people to career opportunities in the wildlife and conservation fields
  • Connect young birders with adult mentors willing to share their time, knowledge, and transportation!


The young birders learned from the Cincinnati Zoo’s Curator of Birds, Robert Webster, about the role of aviculture in conservation. They followed that up with an exclusvie Wings of the World Bird House tour.



To join the Ohio Young Birders Club, or for more information on how you can get involved, click here.



King penguin zooms by a student


Behind the scenes in the Bird House… follow the footprints!

Here’s a look at some of the birds they came across at the Zoo:


Little Penguin chicks


Rockhopper Pegnuin


Horned Puffin



Bowie, the little penguin, and first Zoo Baby of 2016!

Nicobar pigeon

Nicobar pigeon


March 3, 2016   No Comments