Animal Diaries Archive
18 January 2008
Everyone who visits the Zoo and watches the free flight bird show is amazed by the beauty and size of our free flight Macaws and the mass of Cockatoos, Major Mitchell’s and Lorikeets zooming past their heads.
Though sometimes overlooked, our water birds are very clever and put on a spectacular performance in the show. First out we have our cormorants; Flipper and Albert. Flipper is a Pied Cormorant and Albert is a Greater Cormorant. Cormorants are very adaptable little birds and it’s not uncommon to see them in many coastal waterways or braving the big surf. Flipper and Albert demonstrate their natural swimming abilities each day . We place several small bait fish out in the Crocoseum pond then let these guys show off just how well they dive and use their predatory skills. Out of show time we like to reward our little cormorants with a walk and a swim out in a real pond at the Zoo. Here they are free to catch anything they like and sun themselves out on the bank.
Next out we have Hugo and he is a White Faced Heron. Hugo is another water bird known as a wader and is also found in coastal areas. Hugo makes his grand entrance by flying out and demonstrating how his long beak is used to get into grassy and marsh areas when searching for food. His longer legs make him able to wade through mud and water looking for food such as insects, crustaceans and small fish.
While Flipper and Albert dart around under the water, Caesar the Australian Dater gracefully swims out and makes his way up onto his rock in the Crocoseum. Now another interesting fact about our cormorants and darters is that even though they are water birds, they do not have water proof feathers. After some swimming and hunting they become waterlogged and lose some ability to fly. What they need to do, and which Ceasar displays beautifully, is spread out their wings and let them dry out. This week Caesar has been unable to perform in the daily shows. Recently he has gone through a moult and has dropped his tail and wing feathers. While the feathers grow back (very quickly at that) he is having a relaxing week off.
So next time you see our free flight bird show be sure to watch these very special little birds perform perfectly in the 11am and 2pm shows. You may even get to see a larger wetlands bird drop in to the morning show.