While the weather outside is frightful, inside the Bird House it is so delightful. As the snow falls around the Saint Louis Zoo, a familiar “partridge in a pear tree” tune is sung. Do you recognize the carol? Birds have often been depicted in folk songs due to their beauty and, sometimes, their importance as a food source.
This holiday season, let us take you on a journey to discover 12 different types of birds for what we like to call, “The 12 Days of ‘Bird-mas.’"
On the first day of “Bird-mas,” the Saint Louis Zoo gave to me: a crested wood partridge in a pear tree. The crested wood partridge is a small ground bird that is found across Southeast Asia and on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Male crested wood partridges build beautiful huts made of leaves where the females lay five to six white eggs. The chicks are able to keep up with mom and dad within hours of hatching but require morsels of food delivered right to their beaks. These industrious little birds are listed as threatened in the wild due to logging and hunting pressure. #12Days
On the second day of “Bird-mas,” the Saint Louis Zoo gave to me – two Luzon bleeding heart doves. These unique doves are found only on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, where they call the lowland forests their home. While both the male and female have the unique “bleeding heart” coloration, the male is able to inflate his chest while courting the female, which causes the red spot to appear larger. The doves are doting parents that split their chick-raising duties equally; both incubate and feed the chick, known as a squab.
On the third day of "Bird-mas," the Saint Louis Zoo gave to me – three French hens. Well, sort of. These birds may not speak French, but the Congo peafowl is the national bird of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where French has been adopted as the national language. One of only three species of peafowl, the others being the Indian peafowl and the green peafowl, Congo peafowl are devoted partners that raise up to four chicks per season. As small as a chicken, the Congo peafowl forage along the forest floor eating insects, seeds and fruit. Don't let their size fool you—Congo peafowl can be quite chatty with an intruder alert that sounds like a submarine alert siren. #12DaysofBirdmas
On the fourth day of "Bird-mas," the Saint Louis Zoo gave to me – four grey-winged trumpeters. These calling birds use a variety of croaks, booms, cackles and whistles to keep in touch with their family and to warn their neighbors of danger. A social bird found in northern South America, grey-winged trumpeters form tightly knit family groups where older siblings aid in caring for the youngest chicks. Although known for their snake-killing abilities, these elusive birds feed mostly on fruit and perform an important job as seed dispersers.
On the fifth day of "Bird-mas," the Saint Louis Zoo gave to me – five golden white-eyes. Now you see them, now you don't! Golden white-eyes move quickly through the canopies of the Northern Mariana Islands while gleaning insects off of leaves. Weighing in at just 20 grams (that's about 25 M&M chocolates), this critically endangered bird must spend a large portion of its day feeding on nectar, fruit and insects to keep up with its fast metabolism. When incubating eggs, parents change shifts every 25 minutes in order to replenish their bellies. #12DaysofBirdmas
On the sixth day of "Bird-mas," the Saint Louis Zoo gave to me – six bar-headed geese a laying. Most people can only dream of climbing the Himalayan Mountains, but this amazing feat is a flight in the park for bar-headed geese. Averaging six 6 pounds, bar-headed geese make an annual trek from India to Mongolia, traveling at speeds up to 40 miles per hour to breed in the Tibetan plateau. Once there, pairs will form monogamous bonds and raise the goslings together until the goslings are independent, around 60 days. #12DaysofBirdmas