sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 27, 2008

my d.c.: birds
posted by soe 11:42 pm


D.C. is home to the National Zoo, a magnet for tourists (especially young ones). You’ve all seen the photos of pandas and golden tamarinds and tigers that encourage people to flock to see the animals.

What you may not know, however, is that the grounds of the zoo are open from sunrise to sunset, substantially longer than when the zoo buildings are open. Locals favor the zoo as a safe, quiet place to jog, and if you go in the off-hours, you may find you have the place nearly to yourself.

That was the case for me a few weeks ago, when Rudi and I headed to the zoo to snap a picture with my scavenger hunt sock and an endangered animal. The mammals’ enclosures we passed were all empty (the animals often opt to eat their dinner and then retire for the evening, so it can be hit-or-miss), so we decided to see if any of the outside birds were around.

They were.

Rudi took a bunch of shots before I remembered that I, too, had a camera. Somehow, though, happening upon brightly hued birds reminded me. The one at the top is a Scarlet Ibis.

This is a Roseate Spoonbill:

Nest Building

You can see from the spoonbill and from this Hammercock pair that it’s nesting season at the zoo:

Hammercock Family

It’s not a fantastic shot of the Hammercocks, but it was the best one I could get of them building their nest. The male kept hopping down and picking up huge beakfuls of straw to carry back to his mate and they would arrange it to their hearts’ desires and then he’d be off again in search of more. Their nest was HUMONGOUS.

The flamingos’ nests were already built and they were communally hanging around waiting for some chicks to emerge.

Flamingo Kiss

Both males and females take turns sitting on the nest. The zoo apparently felt that there was some danger to the eggs, because they kidnap the eggs and incubate them until they’re ready to hatch, at which point they return them to their roosting parents.

They were a noisy, chatty bunch of birds. I imagine it’s sort of like being born into a large family, filled with aunts and cousins and neighbors right there.

The occupants of the next enclosure were silent, in comparison. The Greater Rhea:

Greater Rhea

And the wild birds were out as well. I didn’t get any photos of the night herons, but I did snap a few of some ducks. Mama was out with her five little ones, including this one:


And then I managed to photograph one more:

Unidentified Creature

The elusive Random Duck!

The rest of the gang who share their version of D.C. are Rudi, Sarah, Hillary, and MsP. You can catch a few more of my National Zoo photos here.

Category: dc life. There is/are 1 Comment.

Good shots. Good entry. Thanks. That last shot is certainly an odd duck, eh?

Comment by DJDOD 06.28.08 @ 9:30 am