Last February, the SeaWorld Orlando Aviculture Team welcomed a buff-crested bustard hatchling. The bird weighed 20 grams upon hatching and was placed in a warm brooder located in a backstage area of the theme park. This species is native to Eastern Africa, where it mainly feeds on a variety of insects and plant materials. To avoid the chick imprinting on its keepers, a mirror was placed inside the brooder so the chick is able to see a reflection of its own image.

The team is currently feeding the chick wax worms, mealworms, crickets and a variety of fruit and vegetables every two hours. As the chick continues to grow and eat well, feedings can be spread out to four times a day and the chick will learn to pick up food on its own. Thanks to the constant care the SeaWorld Animal Care Aviculture Team has provided the bird since it hatched, the bird has grown quickly in size. It now weighs more than 114 grams.

Here are some additional fun facts about buff-crested bustards:
  • Although they are mostly nomadic birds, buff-crested bustards have the ability to fly.
  • Buff-crested bustards live in the tall grasses of the East African bushland, where they find both protection from their predators and the types of food they like to eat.
  • They lay about one or two eggs and their nests are usually situated on bare ground.
  • The female is solely responsible for hatching and raising the chicks.
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