If you’ve stopped by the bird area of Critter Encounters recently, you may have noticed some changes to our collection. The Zoo recently added a blue-billed curassow named Albert to the area. Blue-billed curassow’s are the rarest of their family and are one of the most endangered species of bird in the world. It is estimated that only around 250 individuals are left in small sections of forest in northern Columbia.
Albert hatched in May 2014 at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida and made his debut at Nashville Zoo this summer. He is a part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP), AZA’s regulated breeding program designed to make sure that we have a healthy, sustainable population and the best genetics possible in zoos in case we ever need to reintroduce birds. The Zoo is hopeful that his recommended female will be joining him here soon. While our Zoos and conservation centers work to keep our population of these rare birds strong, healthy and growing, groups in South America, such as the Fundación ProAves, are working to preserve and protect additional habitat and educate those living nearby.
Albert can be found at Critter Encounters daily. He loves peanuts and flowers and is very curious and vocal - if you stop by, you’ll probably hear him whistling.
To make room for Albert’s arrival, we had to say goodbye to our black-throated magpie jay and golden pheasants. The magpie jay, named Bernard, is still living at Critter in an off-exhibit area. If you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear him calling from his new home. He is entertaining keepers with his antics and is enjoying not having to share his enclosure with anyone. Eventually, Bernard will most likely move on to another zoo so he can be exhibited or paired up with a female. The golden pheasants left the Zoo for a private facility and are enjoying a free-range retirement from Zoo life. Though it can sometimes be sad to say goodbye to birds that have been around for years, we work to ensure that any changes are done in the best interest of the birds and the species as a whole.
Where did those big blue birds go? As many guests have noticed, our hyacinth macaws have been off-exhibit since construction began on our new Zoo entrance nearly a year ago.
While the exhibit is closed, keepers have been hard at work ensuring that the birds continue to receive excellent care. Macaws are curious birds that require a lot of stimulation to keep them healthy and happy. During their relocation, keepers have been finding new and creative ways to keep them busy, including offering various objects to manipulate, hiding food in puzzle feeders, and working on a detailed training program.
Once construction is completed later this year, the birds will move back to their exhibit and resume their unofficial role welcoming guests to the Zoo.