Green aracari

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Before the 1980s, this small toucan from Northeastern South America was very rare in captivity. Since the first captive breeding took place in 1980, in a California private aviary, hundreds have been hatched in the US, and the captive population appears to be self-sustaining. Those in zoos are carefully monitored for genetic diversity through a Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and many others are kept privately. Since 2001, more than 50 have hatched at the DWA. This is one of the few toucans whose sexes can be easily distinguished; males have black heads and the females have brown heads.

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Curl-crested aracari

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This elegant bird is unique among toucans for having a cap of tightly curled feathers that appear “permed”. While not a rare bird in its range (south of the Amazon, divided among Peru, Bolivia, and Amazonian Brazil), it was almost unknown in captivity before the 1960s, and has never been common in zoos. The Curl-crested aracari was not bred in captivity until 1996. The DWA has had immense success propagating this species, with more than 100 birds since 2006.

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Swainson’s toucan

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While this bird is still considered fairly common, deforestation is reducing its habitat throughout its range, from Honduras to Ecuador. A particularly noisy toucan, its puppy-like yelps are heard all day in the DWA rainforest. This is another toucan targeted for breeding by the American Zoo community and nearly 40 are distributed among 20 participating collections. The DWA has been one of the few places to so far breed it in captivity.

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Toco toucan

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Dwelling on the edges of forests, along rivers, and where trees are present in savannahs, this huge toucan is the only member of its family commonly found in open country. It inhabits an enormous range, all the way from the Guianas to Northern Argentina. It is the largest and best known of the toucan species and includes grunts in its vocalizations. Over 100 have been hatched in more than a dozen US collections (including the DWA), as part of a coordinated breeding program during the last quarter century.

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Blue-crowned manakin

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Compared to some other manakins, the male Blue-crowned manakin performs a quieter display, bowing its brilliantly colored head forward while giving a musical trill. Despite having an extensive range, from Costa Rica and Panama, all the way south to Bolivia, it has always been rare in captivity

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Lance-tailed manakin

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Males of this species perform their display in teams of two, jumping up and down, side by side, on a branch, while snarling and whistling. Found in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela, it has never been common in captivity.

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Golden-collared Manakin

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Found in Panama and Colombia, this little bird has proved adaptable to disturbed habitats, flourishing in second-growth woods. The elongated feathers, arranged like a beard beneath the male’s throat, can be bunched together like a pointing finger, parallel with its beak. With those feathers thus positioned, the male performs its courtship display by darting suddenly from branch to branch while making startling snapping sounds with its wings. The only captive hatchings have taken place at the DWA, with twelve hatchings since the first in 2009.

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Golden-headed manakin

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This species is obviously closely related to the Red-capped manakin and shares part of its range in Panama, but is mostly found in Northern South America. The females of these two species are very similar, greenish with pale underparts. At present it is the most widely kept manakin in zoos and has bred in captivity, including the DWA.

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Red-capped Manakin

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The Red-capped manakin is well known to recipients of web-videos as the “Moon Walk” bird. That remarkable display of zipping back and forth by incredibly fast foot motion is its courtship behavior, which is taken to extremes by the various manakins. While most of the 146 species are South American, this manakin is found from Southeastern Mexico through Central America, to Ecuador.

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Plate-billed mountain toucan

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Not seen in collections until the 1960s, this strangely beautiful bird from the cool Andean forests of Colombia and Ecuador was kept by a number of places in the 1970s and ’80s, and several were hatched. Today it is rare in captivity, but the DWA has recently been repeatedly propagating it. Because its mountain habitat continues to disappear, it is considered Near Threatened.

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