Father’s Day will be busy for Betelgeus the wreathed hornbill
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
|Wreathed hornbill chick|
Just in time for Father’s Day, one devoted parent at Zoo Atlanta is busy with a beak-full of fatherly duties. Betelgeus the wreathed hornbill is actively managing the care of both his newest offspring and its mother, Zelda, in one of the animal kingdom’s more unusual parental strategies.
The pair’s new chick hatched on April 18 – the latest success for birds that can be difficult to breed in zoos, largely as a result of their extraordinary approach to rearing their young. When a female wreathed hornbill is ready to lay eggs, she enters a tree cavity. She proceeds to “mud” herself into the cavity using a combination of fruit, feces and wood chips. The male assists from the outside until there is just a narrow slit for an opening. The male feeds the female through this opening until her eggs hatch; he then continues to feed her and her offspring until the chick is old enough to leave the mud nest. During this time, both female and chick are entirely dependent on the male.
The chick is the third for Betelgeus and Zelda, who were paired in 2006. The youngster, who is expected to leave the nest box with Zelda in about a month, will someday sport glossy black plumage and a bright blue throat if female; yellow if male. Initially, all chicks look like males when they leave the nest.
Celebrate all of the animal kingdom’s many dads with a special Father’s Day discount on Sunday, June 17. Dads enjoy free admission with purchase of any full-price general admission ticket. Offer valid only on Sunday, June 17, 2012; not valid with any other offer, discount or promotion.