June 15, 2010
The red-billed hornbill chick isn’t the only baby that made its debut at the National Zoo’s Bird House last week.
A pair of Temminck’s Tragopans (pronounced trag-uh-pan—like a frying pan) also introduced a newborn baby chick: a small, golden and browned colored bird that will grow to become an adult colored in brilliant shades of red and blue.
Tragopans are native to the forests of China, India, Tibet and Vietnam. And unlike other pheasants, tragopans live in trees.
They have short bills and horns; and their tails are shorter than their wings. Tragopans are also unique because the chicks are up and running within just 24 hours of being hatched, and by three days old, they can fly.
The species isn’t considered endangered, but their native habitats are disappearing quickly because of deforestation.
The Zoo’s tragopan mother first laid three eggs in early May, said Christine Stout, the birds’ keeper, but only one chick survived when the eggs hatched on May 24. The other two chicks were positioned incorrectly in their eggs, she said, which meant they could not fully hatch.
“Normal challenges for any egg is if the parent or parents are incubating and turning the egg correctly and if the chick inside is positioned correctly,” Stout said.
We’ll be waiting with anticipation as the Tragopan baby grows up and starts to sport its beautiful feathers. But, for those of you waiting for another chance to name a Zoo animal, Stout says there are currently no plans to give the little chick a special moniker.
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