Get excited, college basketball fans! Your favorite month of the year has arrived. Many associate the month of March with the game of basketball. Specifically, they think of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s tournaments that are held to decide who is the best basketball team in the land.
Right now, I can already feel the fever building for myself and many others as we analyze teams and prepare to make our tournament brackets. That excitement has now spilled over into my love of the birds in our department. I started to ask the question, which of our birds would I pick to build the best “basketball team?” Though unrealistic, let’s walk through this exercise together. Below I will describe five typical player positions in basketball, five different species, and where you can find them in the Zoo.
Point Guard – golden pheasant: A point guard is meant to very quick and agile. They also have a tendency for being flashy with their moves on the court. Our golden pheasants, specifically our male, fit this description perfectly. He is very fast and even gives care team members the slip every once in a while when it’s time for those regular vet visits. His bright, beautiful colors and even his plucky attitude make him the perfect point guard. Currently, you can view both of our pheasants in The Living Treehouse Aviary in The Ford African Rain Forest section of the Zoo.
Shooting Guard – racket-tailed roller: A shooting guard is meant to score a lot of points for the team. To do so, they must always be ready to receive the ball. Our female racket-tailed roller is always prepared to receive food from her keepers. She is usually first to the food bowl and will even follow her care team members as they walk through her home habitat, The Living Treehouse. In terms of being prepared, there is no better candidate in the department.
Small Forward – ground hornbill: Small forwards are known for their versatility. They can vary in size, but possess a skill set of every other position on the court. Ground hornbills, by virtue of their name, seem somewhat one-dimensional. However, most people are not aware that these birds can fly, even though they spend most of their time on the ground. They are not the biggest birds but should never be overlooked in toughness or tenacity. Currently, you can visit our ground hornbills across from the rhino indoor area.
Power Forward – kori bustard: Power forwards usually have a little bit of weight to them but are still not the tallest on the floor. Kori bustards are our best candidate for this position. They hold the claim as the world’s heaviest flying birds. Even though they are big birds, they are still far shorter than some of our taller residents. You can currently visit the kori bustards in the African Savanna area, across from the lion habitat.
Center – wattled crane: The last position on the floor is left for the tallest team member. Besides height, they usually have a very long “wingspan” as well. Wattled cranes are the tallest bird species in the Bird Department. You can get a good perspective for their wingspan during this time of year. Cranes are known for their love of “dancing,” where they run, jump, and spin with their wings wide open. During their breeding season they are more prone to do this behavior. Currently, you can see our wattled cranes right across from the wetlands habitat.
I believe I have assembled not just the best bird basketball team, but the best basketball team of all time. Each one of these species possesses the skills needed to field a quality group that could conquer March Madness. What do you think of my bird team? Do you have any better suggestions that we have here at Zoo Atlanta? Regardless, I hope this blog got you in the mood, not just for basketball in March, but for a visit to the Zoo!
Keeper II, Birds