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Rainforests of the World 

December 30, 2009

Violaceous euphonia nest

Yesterday was day 22 for our violaceous euphonia (Euphonia violacea) nest. With a typical incubation of 12-14 days, these eggs were assumed infertile, but we let the female sit on them a bit longer so that she would gain some experience going through the incubation process. But, alas, after sitting in a tropical rainforest for three weeks, they can begin to go bad, so we pulled them yesterday.

Below is the euphonia pair drinking their morning nectar; the male is the yellow/purple one on the left and the female is in her fabulous camouflage green on the right.
euphonia pair

Photo by: Rachael Tom

They chose a precarious nesting site, in the root ball of an orchid about 5 feet above the Amazon fish tank. You can see the dark entry to the nest in the crotch of the tree branch, right behind the vine. Both the male and female build the nest, and they like sites where they can create a little dome around the nest.
euphonia nest

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Euphonia eggs are about 1 cm long and look like those little Easter egg chocolates. Mmmmm…chocolate. Clutch size is 3-5 eggs, laid on consecutive days.
euphonia eggs

Photo by: Rachael Tom

So how do we determine the fertility of the eggs? We carefully hold a light source to the egg in a dark room, and then can see what’s going on inside. This egg is infertile as you can clearly see the yolk floating around with no veining or any chick development. You can even see the air pocket in the upper 1/4 of the egg. Thanks to Rachael for taking this amazing photo:
candling egg

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Filed under: Birds — rainforest1 @ 11:12 am

December 16, 2009

Welcome to the Rainforest Blog

The rainforest bola here at the Academy is full of awesome plants and animals with something always happening. We hope this blog gives you insight into the type of work biologists do and the flora and fauna we work with.

During your visit, you might encounter some of the free-flying birds that live here. One of the liveliest species is also one of our smallest (and has the coolest name): the bananaquit (Coereba flaveola).
bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Another very visible species here are the paradise tanagers (Tangara chilensis). Our paradise tanagers usually hang out at the Costa Rica level (3rd floor) of the rainforest, where they keep an eye on what visitors are up to. Here is one of our female tanagers telling us what’s up:
paradise tanager

Photo by: Rachael Tom

How do we know which bird is which? Most of our birds are banded with their own unique color band. The paradise tanager above, for example, is the only one of her species with a green band on her left leg. This way, we can record all of our observations of what this individual does.

We search for each individual bird every morning to see how they are behaving, what their appetite is like, etc. Some mornings, certain birds are slow to show up for breakfast. This usually means that they have a nest hidden somewhere, so when we do see them, we observe their behavior until we see them going to a nest. Check out this awesome silver-beaked tanager (Ramphocelus carbo) nest:
silver-beaked tanager nest

Photo by: Rachael Tom

Thanks for checking out the Rainforest Blog and we hope to see you exploring the tropics here at the Academy!

Filed under: Birds — rainforest1 @ 1:42 pm

The Rainforest Team


Academy biologists share the inside scoop on the Academy's 'Rainforest of the World' exhibit.

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