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.
Click on the photos below to enlarge.