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February 2020 – Aviculture

5 Mar 2020

Our Head of Species Manager, Chrissie reflects on February

It’s a boy! On Valentine’s Day we found out that our five-month old Greater Flamingo chick is male! He is still inside to keep him warm along with a few friends for company, but we look forward to him coming outdoors to join the rest of the flock in the warmer spring weather. We have our fingers crossed for more flamingo chicks this year!

The Hawaiian Goose (or Ne-ne as they are otherwise known as) is a relatively small goose with a grey/brown scaly pattern. As the name suggests it is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and very nearly went extinct in the mid 1900s when numbers dropped as low as 30. This vulnerable species was saved by an extensive captive breed and release programme along with some careful management of predators. The birds have a very distinctive, almost mournful, cry, which gives them their name. They are very early breeders, as early as February. Our small Ne-ne flock at Pensthorpe spends much of its time on the Viewing Lake so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for them and listen out for their call. They are well practiced at coming right up to you to say hello, especially if you have some bird food in your hand! 

Speaking of calls, we will soon be encouraging people to listen out for the distinctive crexing of the male corncrakes as they call for females after spending the winter in sub-Saharan Africa. We are making preparations for our breed and release programme, ensuring that sites are ready for breeding pairs later this spring.

You may have noticed work taking place at our Waterfall, Stream and Circle Pond (opposite the red squirrels). We are developing this site around the species that suit this area best such as the Scaly-Sided Merganser, which flourishes in fast flowing water. Many of the species earmarked for this area are from Eastern Europe and Asia and threatened in the wild due mostly to wetland habitat loss.