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Category — General Zoo

Lessons from the Passenger Pigeon

Guest blogger: Sophie Williams, Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) student and consultant on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation

Did you know that the male passenger pigeon could fly up to 60 miles per hour? Find out what nickname this earned the pigeon from our Director of Education, Dan Marsh, as he is interviewed for Kentucky Afield. He discusses how the loss of the passenger pigeon was one of the key motivators for today’s conservation movement. Learn more about the passenger pigeon, what the skies were like when filled with these birds, and the important lessons they left in their wake.

Passenger Pigeon (Photo: J.G. Hubbard)

Passenger Pigeon (Photo: J.G. Hubbard)

 

Don’t forget, you can get involved by holding a Project Passenger Pigeon event in your community! You could download a variety of educational materials for use in your class or organization, put on an origami pigeon parade, or host a speaker in your school or community. Visit Project Passenger Pigeon’s website for more information. How will you get involved?

To read the other posts in this series, click here. Join us next month as we take a look at species conservation at the Cincinnati Zoo. 

February 7, 2014   No Comments

Why are there spots in these birds’ mouths?

Post co-authored by Aimee OwenGFinch1

The offspring of many finch species, like these Gouldian finch (Chloebia gouldiae) chicks, have luminous nodules, called papillae, on the sides of their beaks and markings on the inside of their mouths. Together, these act as sort of a “beacon” to direct the parents to the hungry mouths of their chicks in dark nest cavities.  Each species of finch has a different arrangement of papillae and mouth markings.  As each chick develops into an adult and begins to eat without parental assistance the papillae and markings gradually disappear.

Gouldian finches are a species of grass finch that inhabit the savannah regions of northern Australia.  Australian seasonal changes range from a dry season lasting about six months to a wet season, which lasts about three months.  These finches feed primarily on grass seeds throughout the year.  However, in the beginning of the dry season when the grasses turn brown and go dormant, an abundance of fallen seeds previously hidden become more available to the birds.  This period of plentiful food directly coincides with and activates the Gouldian finch breeding season. [Read more →]

January 28, 2014   1 Comment

Saving the Blues in Bolivia

The Blue-throated Macaw, found in the tropical savanna of northern Bolivia, is considered one of the most threatened bird species in the world.  For the past three years, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has supported an effort to enhance Blue-throated Macaw reproduction in the wild through the Bird Endowment’s Nido Adoptivo project.. Initiated in 2007, Nido Adoptivo has installed hundreds of nest boxes to supplement natural breeding.

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Nest Box Supported by the Cincinnati Zoo

 

Intensive research on the macaw’s flight and migration patterns determined placement of the nest boxes.  The box design was modeled after natural nests found in holes of palm trees where chicks successfully hatched and fledged. Nest box position, depth, vertical and horizontal lengths, and the size of access holes were studied.  Additional modifications will be implemented for the 2013-2014 season.

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Chicks in the Cincinnati Zoo-sponsored nest

 

CZNidoAdoptivo2011-12

Nest box placed high up on the trunk of a palm tree

 

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2012-2013 was the most successful year yet. Ten healthy Blue-throated Macaw chicks hatched and fledged from the boxes.

For the first time, a breeding pair was noted with leg bands, meaning they had been hatched some years earlier in the program.

A total of 39 Blue-throated Macaw chicks have been produced in Nido Adoptivo™ nest boxes during the previous six breeding seasons.

As a consequence of the program’s ongoing successes, we continue to see the population increase in the Southern Zone, with flocks of Blue-throated Macaws now traveling between five local private ranches. This was unheard of in the area five years ago.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of the 27 sponsors of the new and improved nest boxes being monitored during the 2013-2014 season which is underway.

Nido Adoptivo™ has begun the funding phase of the 2014-15 breeding season in anticipation of building upon seven consecutive years of success in Bolivia.

To learn how you can help support the Nido Adoptivo project, visit http://www.birdendowment.org/index.shtml.

January 23, 2014   1 Comment