Breeding Management of Four Tanager Species in a Mixed Species Exhibit at the San Diego Zoo


The K.C. Lint Hummingbird Aviary at the San Diego Zoo offers the visitors a close up view of a wide variety of small colorful birds in a lushly planted environment. Although the concentration of 27 species of birds coexist peacefully most of the year, the breeding season presents many challenges for optimal management. During this period, competition for territories, nests, and speciality food items changes the population dynamics of the enclosed environment. By modifying our management techniques, we have improved the breeding success of four species of tanagers: Turquoise Tanager (Tangara mexicana), Silverthroated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala), Spangle-cheeked Tanager (Tangara douni) and Golden-masked Tanager (Tangaro larvata).

In addition to the tangara species, other tanagers in the aviary include Yellow-throated Euphonia (Eupbonia birundinacea), and Golden-browed Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia occipitalis). Also present are several species of finch (Tiaris, Sporopbila spp.), plover (Pluvianus spp.), Pink-eared Ducks (Malachorhynchus membranaceus), two species of sunbirds (Nectarinia spp.), and eight species of hummingbirds (Amazilia spp., Myrtis, A nthracothorax, Campylopterus, Metallura and Rhodopsis).

The Hummingbird Aviary is a walkthrough, open-air enclosure measuring 64 feet by 24 feet by 16 feet 5 inches. The dome framework is covered by 1/2 inch by 1 inch 12 gauge wire mesh. There is a covered side- which provides visitor viewing. Except for the summer months, three quarters of the top is covered with a translucent plastic tarp to provide shelter from inclement weather.

The enclosure contains a wide variety of tropical plants which provide the birds with a naturalistic habitat. The flora of the enclosure includes Bromeliad spp., Fuschia hybrids, Impatiens hybrids, fern spp., and palm spp., along with several species of flowering vines (Passiflora morifolia, P. incense, Tbunbergia mysorensis,) and a mandavilla. The wide selection of tropical plants provides year round blossoms for visitor appeal and environmental enrichment for the birds.

Their diet consists of a soft fruit mix g of apples, pears, papaya, grapes, ~ cooked rice and Ziegler low iron pel- i)' lets, large pieces of avocado, banana, ~ papaya, apple, orange, soaked fig, -§ and chopped greens. Small crocks if with soaked monkey biscuits and Nekton Lory (Nekton) are placed in the pan. A finch seed mix and mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) are also provided. Blair's Superpreen is...