Noisy Nests and New Arrivals

Nests throughout the zoo have been home to feeding calls and busy parents in recent weeks. Fairy bluebirds, sunbitterns and crested wood partridges are among the latest additions to the 28 chicks that have emerged at the zoo so far this year.

The hatches include some zoo milestones: three Bourke’s parrots and one blue-gray tanager were the first of their species to hatch here. Two swan geese and two Guam Micronesian kingfishers provided a welcome boost to species that are endangered—or in the case of the kingfisher, extinct—in the wild. And if you saw the five European white stork chicks when they first hatched at the beginning of the month, you wouldn’t recognize them now—they’ve been increasing their body weight by as much as 15 percent every day.

My favorite new arrival, though, is the sunbittern chick in the Free Flight Area of the McCormick Bird House. I’ve always enjoyed the call of this Central American species, which sounds like a very flutelike whistle. Back when I was curator of birds, if everything was quiet in the building, that call would sometimes make it all the way into my office.

A sunbittern chick is one of the new arrivals introduced by President and CEO Kevin Bell.

The sunbittern chick at the McCormick Bird House.

Chicks make up the bulk of the zoo’s recent arrivals, but they aren’t the only new species to see. Right now we’re welcoming a new pack of African wild dogs at the south end of Regenstein African Journey. These four sisters came to us from Brookfield Zoo, where they were born two years ago. As they settle in, they should show us the fascinating social displays they use to maintain the pack’s strict hierarchy.

The new African wild dog pack explores their yard at Regenstein African Journey.

The new African wild dog pack explores their yard at Regenstein African Journey.

Introductions are also underway at the Kovler Lion House, where lions Myra and Sahar are sharing their first roaring encounters under the watchful eyes of animal care staff. The big cats are still getting to know one another outside of the public eye, but I’ll be sure to let you know when you can see them together.

Kevin Bell

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