Caribbean Bird Species Hatch at Texas State Aquarium

May 30, 2018

 CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – In the past two months, the Texas State Aquarium has welcomed some new feathered friends to its Caribbean Journey jungle exhibit. Bird species including red-capped cardinals, blue-crowned motmots and blue-gray tanagers which were introduced to the exhibit in 2017 have had the ability to fly and move freely about the spacious jungle, encouraging natural behaviors like foraging, nest building and laying eggs.

Through a daily census of bird populations, Aquarium staff can sometimes discover a nest containing eggs or even hatched chicks – promising news for these bird species. That’s because these new arrivals help build a genetically diverse and demographically stable population across zoos and aquariums. Red-capped cardinals, blue-crowned mot-mots and blue-gray tanagers are designated a “Yellow” Species Survival Plan (SSP) program by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This means these birds have 90 percent or less genetic diversity over the next 100 years, so breeding new generations is encouraged and strictly managed. The sustainability of bird collections in AZA aquariums and zoos is an increasing priority for these facilities, and the SSP is important to ensuring the continued display of these amazing birds.

Since January 2018, red-capped cardinals have produced two separate clutches of red-capped cardinals for a total of four chicks. These birds have since been moved off exhibit to be carefully looked after as part of the SSP program. A clutch of two blue-gray tanagers was hatched on May 13, and as of late-May are still in their nest, being fed and watched over by their parents.

In mid-May, the Aquarium’s two blue-crowned motmots, a vibrant blue bird species with a long tennis racket-shaped tail, hatched three chicks as well. These young motmots have already fledged, or begun to explore the area outside their nest, and are being fed and cared for by the adult motmots. Aquarium guests who keep their eyes peeled may see these young motmots perched in the trees next to their vigilant parents.

Aquarium officials say other bird species in the Caribbean jungle may also soon produce chicks. Several male saffron finches were released this month to join up with female finches already on exhibit, so it’s possible these birds, which are in process to be an SSP species, may also soon welcome a new generation.

While many of these chicks have been moved off of exhibit or their nest locations are not being made public, everyday guests are able to see adult birds in the Caribbean jungle flying, foraging, and perhaps even gathering materials for their next nest.

The Texas State Aquarium is open daily. Parking is included in your admission price. To purchase tickets in advance and skip the line or to learn more about exhibits, hours and other visitor information, visit www.texasstateaquarium.org.

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