A Victoria crowned pigeon chick recently hatched in the Aviary — a first for this species at the Zoo. The animal care team is human-assisted rearing it, as there was difficulty with the egg hatching.
At first, the chick required feedings every two hours and is now being fed three times daily. The chick is tube fed a gruel “formula” made up of egg yolk, calcium, and soaked pellets. It currently weighs 242 grams, which is about 8.5 ounces.
It’s being kept in a brooder box set at 82 degrees to keep it warm. The care team can easily adjust the temperature based on the chick’s needs. As the chick grows, it will be better able to thermoregulate, and the temperature can gradually be reduced. To start, the brooder was set at 96 degrees. As its feathers grow in, the temperature can continue to be reduced.
The chick’s sex will be determined through a blood test taken at about 1 month old.
In the wild, Victoria crowned pigeons are native to New Guinea and are the largest birds in the dove/pigeon family. The males release a loud, booming call during courtship. As adults, these birds are large (24-28 inches long and 4.5 pounds), blueish grey in color, with an elegant blue lace-like crest, deep maroon chest, and red irises. Victoria crowned pigeons prefer to be on the ground, only flying up into the trees to escape danger.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Victoria crowned pigeons are listed as a Near-Threatened species.