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The season of love

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which means it’s the season of love. And if you are looking for some great couple activity ideas, look no further than the birds here at Zoo Atlanta! Spring is the time of year when the weather gets warmer, the days get longer, and all the flora starts to bloom. So, it makes sense that most breeding seasons coincide with this abundance of nesting material and food for chicks! But don’t you worry; some of our species here brave the cold and enjoy their breeding season in the chilliest months.

If you pass by the lappet-faced vultures, you might see Amana and Anubis collecting sticks together. Their nests can be up to seven feet wide and two feet deep! It takes a lot of cooperation to decide where and how to place the sticks, but nest-building is vital to maintaining pair bonds between lappet-faced vultures. It can take many weeks to get the nest perfect before Amana will even consider laying an egg. We spend lots of time collecting different sizes of twigs, branches, and leafy bits to make sure our vultures have all the design freedom they want and need.

Now this next pair you might hear before you see. Dundee and Aussie, the laughing kookaburras, spend their breeding season making a whole lot of noise. Their extremely loud calls are usually used to attract a mate, maintain hierarchy, and establish territory, which are especially important if pairs have chicks on the way. Duetting calls (when Aussie and Dundee call together) can strength their pair bond while they look for a nice tree hollow or, in our habitat, a nest box to nest in.

It might seem like one of our wattled cranes is being lazy this season, but, if you see one crane lying down, it is probably incubating an egg! Cranes are a great example of partners equally sharing the workload. Our two statuesque birds have spent about a month pecking around to find the perfect nesting spot and now that they have one, they laid an egg and take turns sitting on it. Every time they switch off duties, they call together in unison. Before the egg is laid, you might catch them running around, dancing and throwing sticks in the air together.

You will have to be quiet and sneaky, but if you head up to the Living Treehouse, you might just see our speckled pigeon getting her nest good and warm for her coming eggs. Speckled pigeons can breed year-round and make a very sparse nest of sticks and twigs. If are you lucky you might catch our male pigeons dancing, bowing, and showing off their feathers for the females.

Make sure to stop back in and see if any of our great couples have new additions to the family!

Sam G.
Keeper I, Birds

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