Safari West is going to the Birds!
Safari West proudly announces the arrival of several chicks……with a little help. This year, Kimberly Robertson, Safari West Registrar, has had her hands full!
Kimberly is incubating, hatching, and raising purple swamphen, cape thick-knee, East African crowned cranes, scarlet ibis, white faced whistling ducks, Reeve’s pheasant, Guinea fowl and jungle fowl.
To promote proper development, the eggs must be rotated 3 to 5 times each day. East African crowned cranes require approximately 28 days of incubation while the other species incubated this year require approximately 21 days. Many of the exhibits at Safari West, including the aviaries, are naturalistic, multi-species exhibits. Incubating and hand raising chicks prevents competition between the species in the aviaries.
When asked if she had a favorite, Robertson smiles and replies, “Each species has unique qualities. The cape thick-knee are alert, the purple swamphen’s feet are awkward, and the scarlet ibis are fast growers that are eager to eat…..” The scarlet ibis are altrical, (blind, and completely dependant on the adults when they hatch) and require feeding with a syringe. The other species incubated this summer are precocial (eyes are open, are capable of following the parents shortly after hatching). The cape thick-knee and purple swamphen prefer live food, responding enthusiastically when the meat they are offered is wiggled.
Now that most of the chicks are ready to join the adults in the aviaries, Robertson is busy preparing for next year. She is duplicating a study conducted by Nancy Lang, PhD., owner of Safari West. Using turkey eggs, Robertson is studying how hatching rates are affected by variables such as temperature and humidity. Insights gained from this study will be helpful in the incubation of eggs next spring, and may help to conserve endangered and threatened avian species at Safari West and other facilities.