On 14 March, in the Living Shores Aquarium, animal care staff prepped the penguin exhibit for breeding season. In the wild Magellanic penguins collect small stones and grasses to place in the burrows they dig into the soil. Here, the burrows are pre-formed as part of the exhibit. And as there are is no loose soil, half to one inch stones are placed in burrows being used by the birds. Plastic grasses are also made available to the flock. The birds will then compete to gather the grasses and sometimes the stones to add to their burrows. They will then lay their eggs on top of the grasses and stones. Thievery of stones and grasses from burrows is ongoing throughout the nesting season.  So when you stop by the zoo in the next month or so take a look and see if any of the birds are walking off with another’s house building materials.

About Cheryl Dykstra

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Animal Management Supervisor, Birds and Fish

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#1 patrick Hilla said:

Have you considered using kitty grass for the nesting sites instead of plastic grass. It is cheap and easy to grow.

#2 Cheryl Dykstra said:

Hey Patrick, The reason we use plastic grasses is because they do not decompose. We used dried grasses in the past and had problems with bacterial and fungal infections in the chicks. Wild Magellanic penguins would not have this same problem as they nest in an almost arid climate.

#3 Sunny Sjaarda said:

How fun to know the penguins have this normal activity to enhance their mood for nesting, etc. Great enrichment. Will love to check up on the blog. Keeper bio is always fun to know.

#4 Roselyn Raap said:

I always love hearing about the animals at the zoo and this is a great way to get the information out to everyone. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

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