Three rare maleo chicks have hatched at the Bronx Zoo, making the zoo one of just two places in the world where the endangered birds can be found. The other is their native home on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
Wildlife Conservation Society specialists carefully studied and recreated the specialized conditions needed for the successful incubation of the endangered bird’s eggs.
Maleos are members of the megapode family, which use sources other than body heat to incubate their eggs. In the wild, female maleos lay and bury their eggs in underground nests, where heat comes from geothermal sources or from the sun when the nests are on beaches.
The maleo has a blackish back, pink stomach, yellow facial skin, a red-orange beak, and a black helmet or “casque.” The bird’s eggs are considerably larger than those of birds of similar size.
Because their incubation period is unusually long, chicks hatch at a comparatively mature stage allowing them to dig through up to three feet of earth. They have the ability to fly, forage, and thermoregulate the same day they emerge from the nest.
The chicks receive no parental care after hatching.
Each of the chicks at the zoo hatched after about 70 days of incubation. They are healthy and currently in an off-exhibit area of the zoo. There are six adult maleos on exhibit in the Bronx Zoo’s World of Birds.
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