The survivability of blue-billed curassows just increased.
Nashville Zoo avian staff welcomed its first curassow chick on May 5. After incubating the egg for 30 days, the chick was assisted in hatching by Nashville Zoo keepers and veterinary staff.
Nashville Zoo keepers had to assist the hatching of this chick because the chick was slightly inactive during the second day after its initial pip in the shell membrane. After keepers noticed the shell membrane was dry instead of wet, they decided to assist the chick in hatching.
“This is a very valuable animal and we need to do everything we can to help it survive,” said Shelley Norris, Nashville Zoo Avian Area Supervisor. “This egg hatching is significant because curassows are critically endangered in the wild.”
There are only 54 blue-billed curassows in zoos across the country and only about 750 in the wild. The population has been in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
This is the first chick born from couple Albert, 3, and Victoria, 5, who both arrived in Nashville in 2015.
Zoo staff knew this egg was viable because they used a technique called candling. Candling is the process of shining a heavy-duty flashlight below the egg in a dark room. Once the flashlight is shone on the egg, keepers were able to see small veins and a dark spot, which was the chick, within the egg.
Nashville Zoo’s curassows have laid eggs in the past, but some have either not been viable or the female has knocked the eggs out of the nest.
“She has no idea that she’s supposed to sit on the eggs,” Norris said. “We think it’s because she’s young and things haven’t kicked in yet.”
Because the female lacks experience with sitting on the eggs, Nashville Zoo avian staff pulled the egg from the nest and transported it to the incubation room, where it remained for the rest of the development process.
Norris brought in a black and blue copper marans chick from Funky Feathers Farm to be a sibling for the new chick. If the new chick imprints on humans, it is common that it can cause aggression, especially in males toward females, later in life.
Nashville Zoo avian staff are working with Houston Zoo and the Species Survival Plan on where to best place this chick.
Blue-billed curassows are believed to live in the same areas in Columbia as cotton-top tamarins, a primate species that was recently introduced in the Expedition Peru exhibit. The Zoo is contributing to the conservation project Proyecto Titi that benefits sustaining the cotton-top tamarin population, which will could potentially also benefit the blue-bills with the installation of cameras to monitor the species.
People can help save this species by reading labels to make sure the products they are buying are from sustainable markets. Curassow and many other species need the protection of the forests to continue to thrive, so make sure to look for Rainforest Alliance Certified and Bird Friendly labels on products.
“We’re learning how best to care for them,” Norris said. “Right now, this species is just so critical, we basically are just keeping them alive in general until we can find a solution in the wild.”
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