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Birdland celebrates feathered Mums!

Birdland celebrates feathered Mums!

Staff at Bourton-on-the-Water’s Birdland are paying tribute to some of the best of Bird Mums for a weekend celebration as part of Mother’s Day this 29th & 30th March. This time of year is a busy period for the feathered mums and bird-keeping team as the residents are starting to lay their eggs and brooding over them as progress is eagerly monitored by the team.

This exciting weekend of activities incorporates a talks programme which highlights some of Birdland’s hard-working hens, so you can hear more about how birdlife looks after its young. And it isn’t always as you would expect!

Birdland’s Head-Keeper, Alistair explained: “In fact in some cases it’s the males that actually do most of the hard work when it comes to looking after the babies, the Rhea male has a harem of females laying eggs into his nest.  He will then incubate for 40 or so days and be responsible for protecting the chicks.  The King Penguin parents share incubation of their single egg – taking it in turns to keep the egg warm on top of their feet”

With the unseasonably warm weather some of the feathered fowl have started laying already causing the bird-keeping team to play close attention and put some of the early eggs into the special incubator, including the Grey Peacock Pheasants who have 2 eggs with incubation around 22 days. 

Alistair said “The mild winter has meant that some species are trying to breed earlier. The Peacock Pheasant eggs are 2 months earlier than last year and we have put the eggs in incubation as the male has in the past broken the eggs.”

Whilst the Blacksmith Plovers have followed suit and are also currently laying with 4 eggs counted so far – the female does most of the incubation but with the male standing closely on guard. The Tawny Frogmouth's also have at least one egg. The male will do his fair share if the incubation, and the Kookaburras and Trumpeter Hornbills are showing interest in nest sites earlier than normal.

Amazing Bird Mum Facts:
•    Burrowing Owls burrow underground where several eggs will be laid, away from prying eyes.  
•    The Flamingos build a nest cone of mud up to a foot high to protect their single egg from flooding.
•    Female pheasants make a scrape on the floor and lay up to 8 eggs which they will incubate and hope that their dull coloured plummage will help camouflage them
•    Pigeons build a flimsy nest on a platform of twigs and lay 2 eggs.
•    Parrots will find holes in trees in which to nest.
•    Female Cassowaries are possibly one of the laziest of bird mothers, she will lay eggs in the nests of several males then leave them to incubate and rear the young.  
•    Possibly the most committed mother is the female Trumpeter Hornbill, she will seal herself into a cavity in a tree (or a nest box at Birdland) using mud, droppings and saliva. She will leave a narrow gap through which the male can feed her for the following three months whilst she lays eggs, incubates them and hatches the chicks.  Once the chicks are full size they will then break out.

Catch the Bird Mums in action over Mother’s Day weekend at Birdland and see how many new eggs you can spot.

24 March 2014
Explore Gloucestershire


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