A Fluffy Frogmouth Chick!

On July 8, our tawny frogmouth pair hatched their second chick in two years!  Mom Henson and dad Max are devoted parents, but without the help of zoo keepers, the little chick may not have arrived at all.

Using a remote video camera, keepers kept watch on the secretive, nocturnal birds to make sure they consistently sat on their egg to provide warmth and turned the egg occasionally.  Unfortunately, midway through the nesting period, keepers saw that Henson and Max had stopped sitting on their egg – which could cause the developing chick to die if it became too cold.  “We pulled the egg from the nest and put it in the incubator to keep it warm,” explains Australian Adventure zoo keeper Bethany Hickey.  To encourage Max and Henson to stay on the nest, the real egg was replaced with a dummy egg.  The birds eventually returned to the nest and “incubated” the dummy egg.

Once keepers were sure that Max and Henson were staying on the nest, the real egg was returned to them.  They finished out the 30-day incubation, and the chick hatched on its own on July 8.

Tawny frogmouths, which are native to Australia, feed on frogs, mice, and insects in the wild.  At the zoo, we give them mice and mealworms.  “Max and Henson are feeding the baby pretty well,” says Hickey, “But we supplement twice a day with chopped mice dipped in Pedialyte.”

As a result of the TLC received from its parents and zoo keepers, the tawny frogmouth chick is strong, healthy, and growing fast.  “One day last week, the chick’s weight went from 36 grams to 43 grams overnight,” Hickey says.

The tawny frogmouth chick still spends most of its time in the nest, which is near the entrance door of the Australia After Dark building.  Because only seven chicks hatched nationwide last year and Henson and Max represent a new genetic line among captive tawny frogmouths, this little chick is important this unique species’ future in zoos.

Learn more about tawny frogmouths.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Penguin Chick Hatches at the Zoo

A bundle of fluffy gray feathers arrived at the zoo on June 26, 2012:  A tiny black-footed penguin hatched to mother Right Pink and father Left Pink. (The penguins are identified by colored bands on each wing.) 

Though the Pinks have raised several chicks, this penguin needed a little help entering the world.  A few days before hatching, the chick used its pointy temporary “egg tooth” (located on the top of its beak) to “pip” through both the internal egg membrane and the eggshell.  Normally, the chick would begin coming out of its shell at this point, but in this case, nothing happened.  “The veterinary staff ultimately helped the chick come out of the egg,” says zoo keeper Nikki Finch.  “Mom and dad took the chick back right away and starting caring for it.”

The Pinks are apparently doing a great job caring for their chick – its weight increased nearly sixfold, from 52 grams to 298 grams, in just 12 days! 

You won’t be able to see the chick, whose gender is not yet known, for several months.  “Right now, the chick is with the Pinks in the penguins’ night house,” says Finch.  The chick will stay with its parents, dining on regurgitated fish, until it is 21 days old or weighs 500 grams.  “After that, we’ll take over feeding the chick and train it to eat fish form our hand,” says Finch.  Once the chick loses its fuzzy gray down and sports a nice set of waterproof feathers, it will return to the exhibit and meet the rest of the flock.

Read more about the endangered African black-footed penguin.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.