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 250 grams, 16 inch 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. You can spot our black-throated magpie jay in Critter Encounters.
    • Blue-billed Curassow

      Colombia

      Moist lowland forests

      Critically Endangered

      25+ yrs in captivity

      Size of a wild turkey and weighs 7-8lbs

      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.

       

      We financially support the El Paujil Bird Reserve in Colombia.

    • Cassowary

      Northern Australia 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 breeding efforts to preserve the species.

    • 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 captivitiy

      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.

    • Hyacinth Macaw

      Brazil

      Grasslands, forest edges

      Endangered

      Up to 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.

    • 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. You can see our ostrich on the African Plains exhibit.

    • 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

      Praries, 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.

    • 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 Tapir exhibit along the Jungle Loop.

    • 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.

    • 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