Birds

Birds

Birds are any of various warm-blooded, egg-laying, feathered vertebrates of the class Aves, having forelimbs modified to form wings. Nashville Zoo has many different species of birds in the Aviary, Critter Encounters, Bamboo Trail, Lorikeet Landing, and other places throughout the Zoo.

  • Black Throated Magpie Jay

    Along the Pacific coast in Mexico

    Open woodlands, dry scrub forests

    Least Concern

    15-20 years

    Up to 0.6 lbs, 16 in wingspan

    Berries, fruits, invertebrates, rodents

    The black-throated magpie jay is easily distinguished by its long tail feathers which make up over half of its body length. These gregarious birds from the family Corvidae are common within their habitat throughout Mexico and Central America. They are social nesters, living in family groups with up to 10 other birds. These jays can be spotted perched atop shrubs, bushes, or in the tops of taller trees. While eating, the black-throated magpie jay will often use one foot to grasp their food and then use its beak to hammer open seeds or pick apart fruits and berries. These birds will also store food to eat later, a behavior called “caching”. They will also help alert other birds when predators are nearby, usually by emitting a loud raucous warning call.
  • Blue-billed Curassow

    Colombia

    Moist lowland forests

    Critically Endangered

    25+ yrs in captivity

    7-8 lbs, about the size of a wild turkey

    Fruit, seeds, nuts, small invertebrates

    The blue-billed curassow is the world’s most threatened species of the cracid family of crested game birds found primarily in Latin America. This curassow is the only example with distinctive blue bill ornaments, earning the species its common name. Very little is known about this bird in the wild due to its rarity; while at one time its range stretched 106,700 square kilometers, it’s now restricted to only a fragmented 2,090-square-kilometer forest area in northern Colombia. The blue-billed curassow has been severely harmed by losing nearly 99% of its habitat over the past decade due to agriculture and other habitat-destroying industries.

     

    Nashville Zoo financially supports Blue-billed curassow conservation through the El Puajil Bird Reserve in Colombia.

  • Cassowary

    Northern Australiaa and New Guinea

    Tropical lowland forests, wetlands, beaches

    Vulnerable

    Up to 40 years

    120-140 lbs, 4-5.5 ft

    Fruit, snails, frogs, eggs

    Double-wattled cassowaries are solitary birds that live in some of the oldest rainforests in the world known as the “wet tropics.” They are the second largest birds in the world after the ostrich. They can be distinguished by their helmet-like casque atop their head and red wattles on their neck.

    Cassowaries are important to the diversity of the rainforest. They consume over 78 different species of plants. Their poop helps to germinate new plants by spreading the seeds of the consumed plants. Female cassowaries will lay their eggs and leave the males to do all the incubating and raising of the chicks for up to 9 months. You can see our cassowaries across from Kangaroo Kickabout.

     

    We participate in the Southern Cassowary Species Survival Plan®.

  • Caribbean Flamingo

    Southern Florida to Northern South America

    Tropical lagoons, salt water lakes

    Least Concern

    Up to 40 years

    Up to 7 lbs, 57 in

    Mollusks, crustaceans, algae, worms, aquatic plants

    Caribbean flamingos are one of 6 species of flamingos which can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. During breeding season they gather in colonies of 5,000 - 100,000 birds. After attracting a partner through an elaborate mating dance a pair of flamingos will begin to build a mud mound on which the female will lay her egg. Both males and females will help incubate the egg and they share responsibilities in caring for the chick.  Flamingos are born gray and do not get their pink feathers until 1-3 years of age. Their diet contains carotenoid pigments which will give them their characteristic pink color. Flamingos are filter feeders and hold their head upside down in shallow water to strain out their food. Flamingos very rarely lay down and even sleep standing up, often only on one leg. You can see our flamingos in Flamingo Lagoon.

  • Common Barn Owl

    Every continent, except Antarctica

    Nest in caves, tree cavities, buildings

    Least Concern

    15-20 yrs in captivity

    About 2 lbs

    Small mammals, rodents, birds

    Barns owls are the most widespread of any owl species and can be found in any habitat that meets their needs. As with other owls they swallow their prey whole and then cough up pellets which contain all the non-digestible parts of their prey such as bones and fur.

    Barn owls have great eyesight but they are renowned for their ability to hear extremely soft noises. A barn owl hunting in complete darkness can still locate and capture prey using sound alone. Barn owls have been known to nest in hollow trees and artificial nest boxes but earn their name by often taking up residence in old buildings such as abandoned barns and silos. You can see our barn owls at the Croft House barn.

  • Common Shelduck

    Europe, Asia, Africa

    Salt marshes, estuaries, semideserts

    Least Concern

    Up to 24 years

    Up to 2.5 lbs, 23-25 in

    Invertebrates

    The common shelduck is a species of waterfowl prominent in western Europe and Asia. Along with their goose-like appearance, shelducks are recognized by their loud “honking” call. Common shelducks are social birds and can be found in flocks of 50 to 100,000, in extreme cases. When breeding, common shelducks inhabit unused burrows, crevices and caves to nest and raise their young. Juveniles are born with the same unique pattern of white, black and green that is found on adults. If threatened by a predator, adult shelducks fly away from their young to act as a decoy, giving the ducklings a chance to hide by diving underwater. Our common shelducks share their habitat with the Stanley crane and white-faced whistling ducks.

  • Great Blue Turaco

    Equatorial Africa, from Sierra Leone to Uganda

    Rainforest canopy

    Least Concern

    Up to 30 years

    1.8-2.7 lbs, 28-30 in

    Fruit, flowers, leaves, insects

    Great blue turacos are known for their bright blue plumage, red and yellow beaks and loud calls. They are the most widespread of the 23 turaco species, with habitats ranging from Sierra Leone to Uganda. Though they are not strong fliers, great blue turacos are able to move nimbly through the rainforest canopy by gliding from tree to tree. When breeding, both parents build a stick platform nest, where the female typically lays two bright blue eggs. The breeding pair takes turns incubating the eggs for up to one month and continue to co-parent after the chicks have hatched. Chicks remain with the parents for several months after leaving the nest. Nashville Zoo has produced four great blue turaco chicks since 2009 and is one of few zoos breeding these birds.

     

    Nashville Zoo is a leader in Great Blue Turaco breeding and research. We also participate in the Great Blue Turaco Species Survival Plan®.

  • Hyacinth Macaw

    Brazil

    Grasslands, forest edges

    Endangered

    30-50 years

    Up to 4 lbs, 3 ft long

    Nuts, seeds, fruit

    The population of hyacinth macaws in the wild has declined rapidly due to illegal pet trade and habitat loss. New initiatives to prevent illegal trading have been put in place, including the installation of artificatial nest boxes and greater law enforcement.

    Hyacinth macaws will use their powerful beaks with more than 300 pounds of pressure to break open palm nuts, their main food source. Females lay 2-3 eggs each breeding season with one chick usually making it to adulthood.

    You can see our Hyacinth Macaws on exhibit just inside of Entry Village.

    We participate in the Amazon Conservation Project, providing molted feathers to native tribes in South America. We also participate in the Hyacinth Macaw Species Survival Plan®.

  • Lorikeet

    East coast of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia

    Coastal forests

    Species dependent

    Up to 25 years

    Up to 5.5 oz, 12 in long

    Nectar, pollen, fruits, berries, unripe grain

    Lorikeets are very loud and social parrots. They roost at night in groups of up to thousands, and are very active in the mornings and evenings foraging in smaller groups. While other parrot species eat seeds and nuts, Lorikeets have evolved a long tongue that is covered in fine brush-like papillae that helps them gather pollen and nectar from flowers. Lorikeets can feed on thousands of species of plants, making them important pollinators in their native habitat. You can help feed our eight species of Lorikeets at Lorikeet Landing.

  • Mandarin Duck

    Eastern Asia

    Wooded waterways, swamps, lakes

    Least Concern

    Up to 10 years

    About 2.5 lbs, 9.5 in

    Grains, seeds, insects, vegetation

    Mandarin ducks are “perching” ducks which means that their legs are set far forward on their body and they are able to walk on land more easily and can often be found perching in trees. Male Mandarin Ducks are considered to be some of the most beautiful ducks. But the bright distinctive plumage of the males is lost during the summer months and it is difficult to tell males and females apart. The males will regain their bright feathers sometime in the fall. Mandarin Ducks have elaborate courtships displays and once paired will remain together for several seasons. They make their nests up to 30 feet high in hollow trees. Females will have 9-12 ducklings that will remain with the female for about 8 weeks. Only hours after hatching, the mother will leave the nest and call her ducklings. Although they can’t fly yet, the ducklings will launch themselves from the tree, and land harmlessly below. You can see our Mandarin Ducks in the pond at Lorikeet Landing.

  • Ostrich

    Sub-Saharan Africa

    Open, dry plains and savanna

    Least Concern

    Up to 40 years

    Up to 350 lbs, 9 ft

    Leaves, seeds, grains, nuts, fruit

    The ostrich is the largest flightless bird in the world. They can run about 40 miles an hour covering 10-16 feet with a single stride. The ostrich will often use their wings as rudders to help change direction quickly while running. Ostriches will live in groups of about 12 birds. All the females of the group will place their eggs in the nest of the dominant female. A single ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs! Ostriches can often be found around other grazing animals like antelope and zebras. Ostriches have great eyesight and will often alert other animals of predators in the area. It is myth that ostriches hide their heads in the sand. They will put their necks close to the ground to try and hide from predators, from a distance it appears that their head is in the sand.

  • Rhinoceros Hornbill

    Southeast Asia

    Lowland forests

    Threatened

    Up to 35 years

    Up to 6 lbs, 60 in wingspan

    Fruit, small mammals, lizards, snakes, insects

    The rhinoceros hornbill is one of 54 species of hornbill that exist. The rhinoceros hornbill can be distinguished by its banana-shaped casque on the top of its beak. It is thought that this is used to amplify the sound of its call. It is made out of keratin, just like our fingernails and hair and is very strong and lightweight.

    Rhinoceros hornbills chose a nest high in a tree cavity. With The female inside a breeding pair works together to cover the opening with mud and scat, leaving only a small slit to pass food through. The female stays inside the nest for 3 months incubating and caring for the eggs. You can see our rhinoceros hornbill on Bamboo Trail.

     

    We participate in the Rhinoceros Hornbill Species Survival Plan®.

  • Saddle-Billed Stork

    Sub-Saharan Africa

    Tropical marshes, grasslands

    Locally endangered in South Africa

    Up to 35 years

    Up to 16 lbs, 60 in

    Aquatic and land-based vertebrates

    Saddle-billed storks are the tallest of all storks. The pointed beak of the stork is used to repeatedly stab in open water or marshlands looking for prey. Recognized by the yellow skin, or lappet, that covers the front of the bill like a “saddle.” Saddle-billed storks mate for life and each pair will build their nest away from other birds and will defend their territory from other birds. Their nests are large enough to hide the bird completely while in the nest. Female saddle-billed storks will lay up to 5 eggs and both the male and female incubate the eggs and raise the chicks in the nest. Storks are a symbol of fertility and good luck. You can see our saddle-billed storks across from the meerkats.

     

    We participate in the Saddle-Billed Stork Species Survival Plan®.

  • Snowy Owl

    Northern Canada to USA

    Prairies, marshes, beaches, tundra

    Least Concern

    Up to 9.5 years

    Up to 6.5 lbs, 28 in

    Small rodents

    These large ghost-like owls have white feathers to match the snowy arctic areas where they spend much of the year. The whitest birds are males, while females can have brown or black markings. Snowy owls will usually breed in Arctic areas and migrate south to warmer climates in the winter. Snowy owls like to spend the summer in the arctic hunting when there's near endless daylight. They have an appetite for lemmings and will eat up to 5 per day. Snowy owls will build their nest right on the ground with a breeding pair often returning to the same site year after year to lay their eggs. Snowy owls fiercely protect their breeding areas from other owls and even wolves. You can see our Snowy Owl on exhibit in Critter Encounters.


    We participate in the Snowy Owl Species Survival Plan®.

  • Southern Crested Screamer

    Southern South America

    Tropical forests, urban greenscapes

    Least Concern

    About 15 years

    Up to 11 lbs, 37 in

    Succulents, leaves, seeds, aquatic plants

    Southern crested screamers are different from other waterfowl as they do not have webbed feet. They have long toes that help them grab onto vegetation as they walk through flooded areas. Their name comes from their unique call which can carry for several miles. Breeding pairs will protect their large nests where they lay 2-7 eggs. Young are capable of flying at 8-10 weeks. You can see our Southern Crested Screamers inside the Baird's Tapir exhibit.


    We participate in the Southern Crested Screamer Species Survival Plan®.

  • Stanley Crane

    Southern Africa

    Grasslands, wetlands

    Vulnerable

    Up to 50 years

    Up to 14 lbs, 4 ft tall

    Plants, fish, reptiles, insects

    Stanley cranes are migratory birds that live in large flocks. Pairs of Stanley cranes will conduct elaborate mating dances which include running in circles, calling to each other, and throwing grass. These birds are at risk in the wild from poisoning, habitat loss, and illegal capture. You can see our Stanley Cranes near Entry Village.

  • Western Grey Plantain Eater

    Western/Equatorial Africa

    Woodlands, savannas, etc.

    Least Concern

    Up to 30 years

    Less than 1 lb, 20 in

    Fruit, flowers, leaves, seeds, invertebrates

    The western grey plantain eater is locally common throughout West Africa. This species of turaco has a partially white underside with dark specks, a pattern that camouflages the bird from the ground when in flight. However, like many turaco species, the western grey plantain eater is not an exceptional flyer and is more adept at gliding. These arboreal birds spend much of their time perched trees and build platforms out of sticks to lay eggs on. You can see our western grey plantain eater inside Lorikeet Landing.

  • White-Faced Whistling Duck

    Central and South America, Africa

    Freshwater lakes, swamps, rivers and floodplains

    Least Concern

    10-12 years

    1-2 lbs, 14-18 in

    Grass, seeds, aquatic plants and invertebrates

    The white-faced whistling duck is named for its bold pattern and unique call. Adult ducks have an easily distinguishable black and white head and communicate through high-pitched whistling noises. Unlike most waterfowl, the white-faced whistling duck is known as a tree duck, as it often perches on branches rather than remaining on the ground. Also unique to the white faced whistling duck is its tendency to remain monogamous for several breeding seasons. Because these ducks lack the colorful plumage other duck species use to attract a new mate each season, they invest more energy in keeping the mate they already have for several mating seasons. Our white-faced whistling ducks share their habitat with the Stanley crane and common shelducks.

  • Bird Species in the Aviary

     

    There are currently 11 species of birds from Central and South America and Africa living in the Aviary inside Unseen New World:

    • African Pygmy Goose
    • Black-Spotted Barbet
    • Blue-Crowned Motmot
    • Blue-Necked Tanager
    • Bruce's Green Pigeon
    • Croaking Ground Dove
    • Green Woodhoopoe
    • Peruvian Meadowlark
    • Red Capped Cardinal
    • Spotted Tanager
    • Yellow-Rumped Cacique

     

    See Who's Who in the Aviary


    We participate in the Blue-Crowned Motmot, Green Aracari, Green Woodhoopoe, Plush-Crested Jay, Red-Capped Cardinal, Silver-Beaked Tanager Species Survival Plans®.