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Posted at 8:42 AM ET, 06/ 7/2010

National Zoo gets chirpier

By Mike McPhate
An adult Red-billed Hornbill. (Jessie Cohen/National Zoo)
Temminck’s Tragopan chick. (Meghan Murphy/National Zoo)

The zoo’s Red-billed Hornbills have broken a 16-year dry spell with the birth of a new chick -- and maybe two.

It’s hard for zoo officials to confirm whether a second chick was born because of the African-native bird’s unusual nesting behavior. After a female lays eggs, she seals herself inside her nest using mud, droppings and food, emerging only after about two months. She depends on the father to provide food through a slit.

“There is a good possibility there may be another [chick],” said Kathy Brader, a bird keeper at the zoo.

The zoo’s Temminck’s Tragopans also welcomed a new chick in recent weeks. Three of the Asian birds hatched May 24, but only one survived with the help of intensive care from zoo workers.

Photos: Birds at the Nat'l Zoo

-- Mike McPhate

By Mike McPhate  | June 7, 2010; 8:42 AM ET
Categories:  DC  | Tags:  bird, national zoo  
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