The San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed the 105th white fronted bee-eater bird born at the park since the breeding program started in 1993, according to a media report.
Zoo Keepers performed a routine health check on the 22-day old hatchling this Tuesday. It appeared to be in good health. The bird weighed 43 grams (about the same as a golf ball.) They also put an identification band on the bird’s leg.
The chick is just 22-days old and the 16th Bee-eater to hatch this season. Although they are not listed as endangered species, it’s unusual to find these birds in zoos. The Safari Park offers the only breeding program for Bee-eaters in North America.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park says they are also conducting a DNA test to see whether the baby bird is a boy or a girl. To do that, they pluck a non-flight feather from the bird. This is necessary for monomorphic species because both males and females look exactly the same.
The bee-eater is known for its signature name, which reflects its natural behavior. According to the San Diego Zoo, the species is known for “hawking.” This means to capture a bee in flight. They also have the special ability to slow their flight and hover near flying insects.
This species is known for having one of the most complex social systems as far as birds go, according to the San Diego Zoo. They have family groups known as clans, within a colony of younger, non-breeding birds called helpers. The helpers assist families in raising the hatchlings. With their help, the overall survival rate of this species goes up.
Bee-eaters and other insect-eating birds are found in Africa, south of the equator. They have an unusual nesting technique that involves building tunnels in hillsides. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park says they include artificially simulated hillsides in the park’s environment for the birds.
The birds live on a diet of mealworms, waxworms and crickets.