Animal Tales

Not So Easy

Plush-crested jay

It took about 20 years and five different birds, but something finally clicked when two of the Zoo’s plush-crested jays produced four chicks. The Zoo tried to breed the species for years, but some factors are out of anyone’s control. “Not all birds are compatible, make good parents or have the ability to produce offspring,” says zookeeper Bryan Kwiatkowski. The Zoo also needs cooperation from guests to help bird parents. “Most of our bird breeding is done in the public eye, and birds are sensitive to noise. When there is a lot of noise it may deter the parents from tending to their eggs/chicks or even not allow them to hear the calls of a hungry chick,” explains Kwiatkowski.

Being a good parent isn’t always a guarantee with animals. But in this case the male and female did everything they should. According to Kwiatkowski, being a good bird parent means “brooding the chicks to keep them warm, making sure each chick receives food so they don’t compete and keeping the chicks safe when they learn to fly.”

Plush-crested jayThis species is part of a breeding program, meaning the four chicks, two males and two females, will most likely be placed in other zoos so they can breed as well. Kwiatkowski is hopeful the parents will produce more offspring next year. Until then, be sure to stop in the bird building to see and hear their unique features. Plush-crested jays have yellow eyes and are known to mimic other bird calls and even human noises.

From the November-December 2019 issue of Wild Things