Spring into Breeding Season!

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It is spring time which means a very busy time for the bird care department.  It is the start of breeding season for many of the birds at Tracy Aviary!  The birds do a lot of the work on their own when it comes to courtship and chick rearing, but our Aviculture team is always working alongside them, providing everything they need for a successful breeding season.

 

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Aviculture starts off the season by placing nest boxes for waterfowl, filling nest logs with mulch for the toucans and aracari, and tilling the flamingo breeding area in preparation for nest building.  There is always a lot to do, but these steps are essential to ensuring the birds have the appropriate “exhibit furniture” to cater to their specific needs as species. It is also important that they provide these items early in the season so the birds have the time they need to build relationships through nest building. 

 

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It might sound odd, but insects are essential to the breeding success of most of the species here at Tracy Aviary. This is because insects provide the appropriate amount of protein to ensure proper growth of chicks.  Almost all species depend on insects during chick rearing, even if their primary diet is fruit based.  During the spring and summer months insect amounts are increased to simulate a “time of plenty”.  This gives the birds assurance that there is plenty of food available for them to raise their young.  

 

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Some of our birds prefer the privacy of our off-exhibit holding.  We use this space to cater to sensitive species or pairs that need specific attention from our Aviculture team.  For example, our superb starlings are medicated for a naturally occurring parasite that doesn’t affect the adults, but could be detrimental to the chicks.  The parents are provided a medication that is dusted on their insects, which they deliver to the chicks during feeding time. This approach ensures the chicks will receive their medication while also allowing the parents to raise the chicks with minimal disturbance.

 

With all there is to do around here, our staff definitely has their days full. However, we enjoy the work we put in to making our birds and gardens as thriving as they can be each spring, and the beautiful life that comes from that hard work. 

-Kate Lyngle-Cowand, Curator of Exhibit Collections