African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) are about 24 inches in length, and weigh between 5 and 8 pounds. They have a black back and a white belly with a black chin and face patch separated from the crown by a broad white band. They have a narrow black band across the chest and down the flanks towards their legs.
Males tend to be a little larger than females and have heavier bills. They have bare, red patches above the eyes which become more pronounced when they are over heated. They also have a few randomly placed black spots on the chest and belly, the pattern of spots being unique for every individual. Juveniles have blue-grey backs and a light belly and they lack the white face markings and black breast band of adults.
African penguins are similar to Humboldt penguins, the main differences are that theHumboldt penguins are heavier, and have proportionately longer flippers and a narrower white band on the head.
Our penguins feed primarily on Capelin, Herring, Smelt, and Trout. In the wild they would go off on foraging trips that would range from 18 to 70 miles. During these trips they can reach speeds of 12 mph. An average dive of an African penguin lasts about two and a half minutes and goes to about 100 feet, although depths of 425 feet have been reported.
African penguins are monogamous. They reach sexual maturity at two to six years of age. The nesting behavior of the "parents-to-be” starts with the preparation of a burrow. The birds will excavate a hole, or will locate one under a depression in the rocks or bushes. They then find dry grasses, twigs, and rocks to line their nest. They will start to vocalize with each other. They become very aggressive to anyone approaching their nest. Incubation is 38 days. A few days before an egg is layed the female will have a decrease in appetite and will begin scratching the substrate. They usually lay two eggs. The second arrives about 3 days after the first. Often times both chicks will not survive because of predation or lack of food. The parents will warm the chicks for the first 15 days. After this, the chicks can generate their own body heat. Anytime between 60 and 130 days the chicks will fledge.
Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere. They live in the Andes Mountains, usually at very high altitudes, from 10,000 to 16,000 feet high. Nesting on rock ledges at such high altitudes, the Andean Condor can soar near the ledges for long periods of time without flapping their wings, as they are lifted by heat thermals.
They naturally live up to 50 years or longer and are scavengers that feed on carrion. The Condor inhabits large territories, routinely flying 150 miles a day in search of carrion.
This particular bird serves as the national symbol for several countries in Latin America such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
Black Palm Cockatoo
Black Palm Cockatoos are a unique and magnificent species, with their erect crests, bright red naked facial skin and a large imposing beak. The plumage is entirely black but sometimes looks gray due to feather powder. Their beaks do not entirely close, revealing their distinctive red and black tongues.
Palm cockatoos are found primarily in New Guinea and northeastern Australia, inhabiting coastal forests to an elevation of 3,900 feet. They feed on large hard forest seeds including Pandanus, Palm nuts, fruits and buds.Although they aren’t known for their speaking abilities, Palm cockatoos are very gentle by nature. Black Palm Cockatoos will grow to between 20 and 25 inches in length and will weigh between 20 and 35 ounces. They can live up to about 50 years.
One interesting fact is that the color of the cheek patch serves as an indicator of the Palm Cockatoo’s general health. If it appears pale, it suggests that the bird is in poor health or environment. Sunlight is important for the Palm Cockatoo’s good health and it enhances the red color of the cheek patches.
Ground hornbills are large, with adults around a metre tall. Both species are ground-dwelling, unlike other hornbills, and feed on insects, snakes, other birds, amphibians and even tortoises. They are among the longest-lived of all birds.
A hornbill's most obvious identifying feature is its large beak, topped with a bony prominence called a casque. However, they also boast striking features including long eyelashes, distinct facial markings, a yellow mark at the base of their beaks, and long legs that help them forage. Males sport blue and red coloration on their throats and blue around their eyes, while females only have blue on their eyes and throat. Males are also normally slightly larger than females. Juveniles have brown feathers and less vibrant throat coloration.
While they are able to fly, ground hornbills prefer to run if threatened. They will, however, fly to catch prey or defend territory.
Blue & Gold Macaw
Blue and Gold Macaws are prized for their beauty and personality and are among the largest parrots, with tails almost as long as their bodies. Appropriately named, Blue and Gold Macaws are a brilliant ultramarine blue above and rich gold beneath. They have a black throat that distinguishes them from the Blue-Throated Macaw and, just like us, their facial skin blushes with excitement.
Growing to reach about 30 inches in length, most Blue and Gold Macaws weight between 30 to 45 ounces and live up to 50 years. Blue and Gold Macaws are found throughout most of tropical South America and inhabit forests of many types. They usually fly in pairs or small family groups but sometimes in flocks of up to 25 birds.
American Flamingos are one of six species of Flamingo found around the world. Flamingos are easily identifiable with their pink feathers, long necks and legs, and a boomerang shaped beak. They are highly social birds which inhabit the shallow water ways of the Galapagos Islands, Southern Caribbean, Yucatan Peninsula, and Northern Caribbean. They are filter feeders that like small crustaceans, insects, mollusks, worms and seeds.
Flamingos can be seen here in South Florida during the winter months. Some scientists believe the South Florida birds are escapees from captivity.
Our Silky, Q-tip, was raised with our Emu, Earl, and the two of them are life-long friends.
Double-Wattled Cassowaries are large flightless birds native to the forests of New Guinea and northeastern Australia. They are primarily fruit eaters, but also eat snails, frogs, rodents, birds and insects. They are often referred to as the “Gardner of the Rainforest” because they disperse the seeds of fruits they have eaten in their droppings, thereby planting seeds throughout the forest. It has been reported that Cassowaries are solely responsible for the spread and propagation of up to 80 tree species.
Naturally, Cassowaries are extremely aggressive and dangerous birds. The Guinness Book of World Records lists them and the world’s most dangerous bird, as they have been known to viciously attack humans who intrude upon their territory. Their middle toes have a long sharp claw with which they can attack and instantly disembowel an enemy. Jungle Island is the proud home of Mama Cass, the only known Cassowary to be trained and in a show anywhere in the world.
They are the third largest bird in the world (after Ostriches and Emus). Adult females are larger than males and can be 5-6 feet tall and weigh about 130 lbs. Females are also have more brightly colored blue pigment on their face and neck. They have a hard horn-like casque on their head, which serves as a vivid reminder of their close relation to the prehistoric velociraptor.
Females lay approximately four turquoise-colored eggs, which are roughly 3 inches by 5 inches in size. Interestingly, the male Cassowary assumes the bulk of the responsibility in caring for the chicks.
Eclectus Parrots are unique among parrots in their strikingly dimorphic plumage color. The females’ feathers are a deep red and are coupled with jet-black beaks while the males are brilliant green with yellow-orange beaks. Scientists originally considered them separate species because they looked so strikingly different. Their feathers have a soft, almost fur like appearance, and they have short square tails.
Eclectus Parrots are found in Australia, New Guinea and the South Pacific Islands and can live 30 or more years. They grow to reach about one foot in length and weigh just under a pound. Young Eclectus Parrots have black eyes that change color with age. As they get older, the females’ eyes turn yellow and the males’ eyes become orange. Eclectus Parrots tend to be pretty independent.
Great-horned Owl is a prolific hunter able to take down an extremely wide range of prey items (over 250 have been identified.) They have feathers around their eyes that are called facial discs which help focus and amplify sounds to their ears. These ears are not symmetrical which allows them to triangulate prey sounds and hunt even in low light situations.
They also have enormous eyes, so big that they do not have room for the optical muscles needed to move them. They compensate by having an extremely flexible neck which can rotate up to 270 degrees.
Our Great-horned Owl “Moonlight” suffered a severe injury to her wing requiring the tip to be amputated. Moonlight resides in the Serpentarium.
Hyacinth Macaws are known as the gentle giants, highly prized for their beauty and personality. They are the largest of all parrots with tails almost as long as their bodies. Hyacinth Macaws are an iridescent violet-blue and have bright yellow eye-rings with a matching small yellow facial patch next to the lower beak. Their beaks are large and strong for opening large nuts. They have brown eyes and a yellow-striped tongue.
Hyacinths will grow to reach between 36 to 40 inches in length and weigh around three pounds. While the life span of Hyacinths is not precisely known, it is estimated to be around 50 years. Naturally, Hyacinth Macaws are found in tropical South America but their numbers in the wild are dwindling due to loss of habitat. Some estimates put the wild population at less than 3,000. Their population in captivity is thought to have exceeded that number, because their animated and comical personalities make them popular as pets.
King Vultures are native to lowland tropical forests from Mexico to Argentina. They have a striking grey and black plumage coloration and colorful red and yellow skin on their faces and necks.
King Vultures are often referred to as the “painted vulture,” because of these colorful facial markings. They have an astounding wingspan, exceeding four feet in length.
Interestingly, King Vultures often find their food by watching other vultures because they cannot smell their prey. Currently, their wild populations have remained stable.
Lories are a large and varied group of parrots consisting of 56 species. They are specially adapted to eating nectar and pollen and have brush-like bristles on their tongues, which help in collection of nutrients in the food.
In the wild, they are found throughout Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia. Lories are larger birds with squared tails whereas lorikeets are generally smaller and have tapered tails.
While some species are predominately blue, black or brown, most lories have brilliantly colored plumage with reds, greens, purple and yellows predominating.
Scarlet Macaws are prized for their beauty and personality, with a brilliant red plumage, yellow coverts on the wings and dark blue flight feathers. They are among the largest parrots, growing between 32 and 38 inches in length, and have especially long tails.
Scarlet Macaws’ eyes change color over time, transforming from black to gray to white to yellow. This progression is often used to estimate the age of a macaw.
They can be found throughout Central and South America, inhabiting lowland tropical forest and woodlands. While their populations remain stable in the South American continent, their habitats are being destroyed throughout Central America, causing them to be considered endangered in that region.
Yellow-naped Amazons are one of the most popular and well known of all Amazons. The bright green birds have a yellow patch at the nape of the neck, and are best known for their ability to talk and mimic sounds.
In nature, Yellow-naped Amazons can be found in Central America where they inhabit arid savannahs, scrubland, semi-arid woodlands and pine forests. Unfortunately, their numbers are decreasing because of the destruction of these habitats.
Adults measure about 15 inches in length and weigh around one pound. An interesting fact about these birds is that the eyes of the young ones are brown and then change color to become an orange-yellow when they are full-grown. Most Yellow-naped Amazons are entirely green until they reach approximately 4 years old, when their yellow nape emerges. They can live up to 50 years or even longer.
Jungle Island is also proud to be the home of a rare blue version of this Amazon.