Friday, August 21, 2015

Lesser adjutant storks at WCS’s Bronx Zoo foster abandoned egg and raise chick as their own



Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society
A pair of lesser adjutant storks (Leptoptilos javanicus) at Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo have successfully hatched two chicks – one of which was from an egg produced by another adult pair. The surrogate parents are caring for both chicks as if they were their own.

In late May, ornithology department staff observed an abandoned egg left by a pair of adult storks that were inexperienced parents. A keeper moved the egg to an incubator where it was carefully monitored and determined to be fertile. 


When hatching was imminent, the egg was marked for identification purposes and moved to a nest belonging to an experienced pair of storks already nesting. The female accepted the egg and completed incubating it alongside her own. The fostered egg hatched on June 27 followed by the hatching of the pair’s own egg on August 5. Both chicks have been accepted by the adults, and despite the size difference both are thriving.
“The successful hatching and rearing is a testament to well developed husbandry techniques developed as part of the Bronx Zoo’s long-standing stork breeding program, said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and Bronx Zoo Director. “Working so closely with these birds at the Bronx Zoo gives us the opportunity to study and understand their behavior and reproductive biology. The information, knowledge and experience we gather here in NY is invaluable to the conservation of the species in the wild.”
WCS has a history breeding lesser adjutant storks and the Bronx Zoo is one of only three zoos in North America to work with the species. 

Lesser adjutant storks are one of 19 stork species in the world. As adults, they stand between 43 and 48 inches tall and have a wingspan of nearly 7 feet. Their name, adjutant, is due to their military-looking posture and strut. Their wings, back, and tail are generally covered with black feathers while the chest and belly feathers are white. Their heads and necks are nearly bare, and they do not have the neck sac characteristic of the greater adjutant storks. In the wild, their diet consists of fish (especially mudskippers) frogs, crustaceans, and some carrion.

WCS’s Wild View photo blog on the Bronx Zoo’s two new lesser adjutant stork chicks and the surrogate parents can be seen at: http://blog.wcs.org/photo/.

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