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Amana and Anubis: The saga continues

Another lappet-faced vulture breeding season is underway, and another chapter is being written in the love story that is Amana and Anubis trying to get it right. This pair of vultures has called Zoo Atlanta home since 2010, and for the past nine years, their care team has been very patiently waiting for them to produce a chick. It was definitely not love at first sight for these two, which is not uncommon, but it took a couple of years before they showed any interest in breeding at all. After three years of nothing, Anubis started building a nest! Everyone was elated! Well, everyone except Amana. She still wasn’t the slightest bit interested in him or his nest.

In 2014, they both started building! Their own nests … in different places … on opposite sides of the habitat. But we did jump one giant hurdle that year: Amana laid her first egg! Unfortunately, it was not in either nest, and she never incubated it. Are you starting to see the roller coaster that is their story? Well, the next few years were more of the same. No unified nest, eggs laid in random places, sometimes Amana would incubate, but never for long. We were starting to wonder, was this ever going to happen!?

Jump to the summer of 2017, when something clicked. They were spending more time together, and it seemed they had finally bonded. They built a huge nest, together, inside their holding. They were very protective of it and acting like real breeding vultures! Of course, it wasn’t breeding season, but hey, it was a huge step in the right direction! Plus, this behavior continued right on into the breeding season. They laid an egg, and took turns incubating it the whole 40 days! Unfortunately, the egg wasn’t fertile, but we were so happy they had gotten that far!

That brings us to this year. For sure this is the year, right? The nest is built and there’s been lots of attempted breeding, although never in the correct position, the male hasn’t quite got it right … Amana finally laid her first egg right on the edge of the huge nest, just where she likes it. Well, it rolled off the side and cracked! It’s all on nest camera and we hear the horrible thud as the egg hit the plywood base. We immediately put a fake, or dummy, egg on the nest and they started incubating. A few days ago we came in and Amana was on the ground … with the dummy egg! We have a camera on their nest, and looking at the footage, Anubis moved the dummy egg to the far edge of the nest, where he likes to incubate, and it rolled right off the back. What is it with these birds and being on the edge of the nest?! We went ahead and pulled the dummy, and we’ll let them try again. It’s not unheard of for this species to lay two eggs in one season, so we may still have a shot. Cross your fingers they can get it right! But if they don’t, there’s always next year!
Monica Halpin
Lead Keeper, Birds

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