Safari Park Welcomes 105th White-Fronted Bee-Eater Chick in Breeding Program

The 22-day-old chick weights 43 grams

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed its 105th White-fronted Bee-eater born at the park since the program began in 1993.

The 22-day-old chick just received a medical check and seems to be in good health.

The health check consisted of putting an identification band on the bird’s leg, weighing the chick and taking a non-flight feather to send to a lab to determine whether the chick is male or female. White fronted Bee-eaters are monomorphic, which means males and females look the same.

The chick lives in a custom-designed aviary at the Safari Park with the other recently hatched birds.

The bird, who weighs 43 grams, (about the same as a box of raisins) is one of 16 chicks hatched this season.

Safari Park

While not listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), White-fronted Bee-eaters are rarely found in zoos.

The Safari Park is home to the only breeding program for the birds in North America.

The birds are fed a diet of mealworms, waxworms and crickets. There are also two beehives in the aviary for supplemental feeding. The beehives also encourage “hawking”, when birds capture a bee in flight.

Bee-eaters can slow their flight to hover over the insect before catching them.

The birds are found in Africa and south of the Equator where they build tunnels in hillsides to lay their eggs.

Staff at the Safari Park have simulated hillsides and burrowing tunnels leading to nest boxes, so staff members can monitor the eggs and hatchlings.

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