Northern Pintail Duck | Heather Anderson
This year, we made some adjustments to our flamingo habitat, which also houses redhead ducks and Northern pintails. This species breeds in grasslands and meadows, so to make them feel more at home, we added more than 60 grass plantings to the exhibit. We were thrilled to welcome a chick May 8. One of the most endearing traits of this species is the way they greet each other. Males and females will lift their chins up—a head nod “hello!”
Wood Thrush | Kathy Brader, Shelby Burns and Stacy Hill
The wood thrush is a consummate songster, and it can sing “internal duets” with itself. In the final trilling phrase of its three-part song, it sings pairs of notes simultaneously, one in each branch of its y-shaped syrinx, or voice box. The two parts harmonize with each other to produce a haunting sound!
At the propagation building, we celebrated the arrival of three wood thrush chicks—two females and one male—June 9, 10 and 12. This was incredibly exciting for several reasons, not the least of which is that mom hatched at the Zoo last year. That means we now have second generation hatchlings under our care! Wood thrush spend most of the year alone and only come together for breeding. Our female and male showed no interest in each other until the very last time we attempted introductions. As a first-time mom, it took the female some time to figure out how to construct her nest. This species is known for their nest-building “wiggle:” they lay down materials, sit in the nest, then kick and push with their feet until the structure is sturdy to their liking.
At the science building, we also had a second generation hatch! Two pairs produced four chicks altogether. The first chick hatched June 16, and the following three emerged from their shells July 6 and 7. Although these parents were less successful with building their own nests, we provided them with artificial ones, which seemed to suit them just fine.
Have you ever wondered how birds keep their nests clean? Chicks produce waste in a form called a “fecal sac,” a gelatinous package of droppings. Parents collect the sacs and either carry them away to dispose of them, or, sometimes, they just eat them—as we’ve observed our wood thrushes do!