July 28th, 2003

battyden

More zoo photos

These are the last ones, I promise.

This boring bird is a male mallee fowl. He looks identical to the female mallee fowl, in fact it's almost impossible to tell them apart until breeding time. The male cares for the eggs. (I bet you were thinking something else.) He doesn't just do the boring "sit until they're hatched" thing, he builds instead a huge mound of sand, dirt and sticks, and at its core is a pile of rotting compost on which the female lays the eggs. That's it, as far as she's concerned. The male carefully covers over the nest, then spends the next 8 weeks regulating the temperature inside by varying the amount of dirt piled over the eggs. Warmth is provided by the rotting compost and the male has a temperature sensor on his beak. He pokes it in... too warm? Remove some covering. Too cold? Pile it on. When he hears the chicks cheeping, he mostly uncovers the nest and wanders off. THe chicks hatch, dig their way out, and have to fend for themselves. They can fly as soon as they're dry.


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