A tiny Beautiful Fruit Dove chick was believed to have hatched on May 23rd, 2020 underneath its parents in a glass-fronted exhibit in the Tropical Bird House. Due to parents incubating the chick tightly in their nest, it was several days before keepers could confirm the presence of our first chick in 8 years. The chick hatched at around 3 grams. It took 19 days of parental incubation for this chick to hatch and left the nest at 12 days of age, still small, but with complete wing feathers. This is a survival adaptation as the quicker they leave the nest, the better their chance for survival. Doves nests tend to have a basic open-to-top design leaving young at risk from predation.
Once fledged, the parent birds continue to feed and shelter their offspring. Doves are the only one of 3 categories of birds the produce a "crop milk" a nutritional secretion produced by parents in an organ that is unique to birds called a crop and fed to the young squabs (a baby dove). We have recently acquired this species again from the Louisville Zoo on October 25th, 2019. Our Avicultural team has been leaders in fruit dove propagation since the late 1980s/early 1990s.
Beautiful Fruit Doves first came to the Memphis Zoo on August 17th, 1989. Keepers began a thriving reproduction program with this species. Our first chick was reared from an egg that hatched on August 21st, 1991. Keepers hand-raised a dove in 1995- a rare and difficult feat that has not often been repeated.
The Beautiful Fruit Doves are manged through an AZA Yellow Species Survival Plan (SSP). Current numbers that reflect most of the zoo show that the population is made up of about 80 individuals. There have been at least 28 births in the last 12 months. This species is common in the wild and native to Australia and New Guinea.
The squab will continue to grow up with parents. Blood will be taken at a future exam to determine sex through DNA testing. Eventually, the SSP will determine future placement to breed and increase the genetic sustainability of this species.
Come visit and see all the amazing birds in the Tropical Bird House starting Saturday, June 20th.