Birds (including free flight)
Black hawk-eagle, Spizaetus tyrannus
The biodiversity of New World rain forests is demonstrated by the abundance of eagles that can be found in one place. This species (in addition to the Ornate hawk-eagle, the Guiana crested eagle, the Harpy Eagle and the Black-and-white Hawk-eagle) all range from Meso-America, through Amazonia and beyond in South America. All five are kept at the DWA, the only place to now do so. Also called the Tyrant hawk-eagle, this rarely-kept species has not yet bred in collections. Fertile eggs have been laid at the DWA.
Ornate hawk-eagle, Spizaetus ornatus
This beautiful bird has always been a rare exhibit. The DWA has had unusual success propagating this species. Young birds have white heads. Weighing less than four pounds, it easily takes such large prey as monkeys, curassows, and macaws. Like the Near Threatened Harpy and Crested eagles, they prefer building nests in Ceibas and other huge trees, but are more tolerant of disturbed forest and not yet considered threatened.
Guiana crested eagle, Morphnus guianensis
Some of the few captive specimens have been mistaken for the much larger Harpy eagle. This remarkable resemblance extends to juvenile plumage -- newly fledged birds of both species have white heads. Crested eagles usually eat smaller monkeys than Harpies, and more often hunt reptiles. Like the Harpy eagle, it is considered Near Threatened, since it requires mature forest. Those at the DWA are now the only birds outside of Tropical America, though this species bred at the Oklahoma City Zoo some years ago.
The 216 species of woodpeckers are found across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa, of which 109 live in Mexico, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. They are important components of the tropical American ecosystem, as other birds, such as trogons, use the nests they excavate in trees. True to their name, their skulls, beaks and tongues are uniquely adapted to extracting insects from trees. Tropical American woodpeckers are uncommon in zoos, but the DWA has done well with four species: Red-crowned woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus), Puerto Rican woodpecker (Melanerpes portoricensis), Panamanian acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus striatipectus) and the Black-cheeked woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani).
Yellow-green grosbeak, Caryothraustes canadensis
Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) invented the scientific names we use today. Many of his names were given to dead specimens in European museums, or pictures in books, so the information he had was sometimes incorrect. The laws of nomenclature do not allow for corrections. Thus, even though this large finch actually comes from Panama and Northern South America, the "Canadian" name that Linneaus gave it in in 1766 is still used. A relative of the Cardinal, Rose-breasted grosbeak, and Painted and Indigo buntings, it has always been rare in captivity.
Golden tanager, Tangara arthus
There are at least 47 species of small, jewel-like tanagers in the genus Tangara, making this the largest genus of purely Tropical American birds. The DWA displays more than a dozen, probably the most extensive public exhibit. They are particularly concentrated along the Andes, as is this species, which is found from Venezuela to Bolivia. Although now seldom seen in zoos, it has bred repeatedly in captivity since the 1950s.
Silver-throated tanager, Tangara icterocephala
One of the more northern members of its genus, this species is found from Costa Rica south to Ecuador, following the Andes in its South American Range. The specimens at DWA were collected in Panama. Chicks were raised by their parents in Mundo Maya in 2011.
Bay-headed tanager, Tangara gyrola
This is one of the more widely distributed of the Tangara tanagers, found from Costa Rica south through a large area of South America, including parts of the Andes, Amazonia and Eastern Brazil. It has been an admired cage bird for at least a century, and is one of the more common tanagers in zoos, where it has been bred.
Violaceous euphonia, Euphonia violacea
With 27 species, the Euphonias comprise another very large genus of Tropical American Birds. They are found from the Mexican State of Sonora, down to Argentina and Bolivia, as well as a number of Caribbean islands. The DWA has exhibited several species. Long considered tanagers, they have been recently reclassified as finches. This species, found over a large area of eastern South America, has been a popular bird in private collections and zoos since the Victorian era. It has bred at the DWA.
Tawny-capped euphonia, Euphonia anneae
Found along the Caribbean Slope of Costa Rica and Panama, this bird barely enters South America, in extreme northeastern Colombia. A rare species in collections, it was obtained by the DWA during an expedition to Panama. Euphonias are specialized for eating small fruits, especially mistletoe berries. In captivity they enjoy blueberries. Euphonia is Greek for "Good Voice", given to these birds for their whistle, trills and musical notes.
Blue dacnis, Dacnis cayana
The nine species of Dacnis are specialized small tanagers that hunt for insects, eat berries and drink nectar. While some of them are rare, the Blue dacnis has an enormous distribution across South America, as well as southern Central America. It is a common species in zoos, and has been known as cage bird for more than a hundred years. While only the males have the bright blue and black pattern, females are also brilliantly colored, in bright greens and blues.
Red-legged honeycreeper, Cyanerpes cyaneus
Honeycreepers are tanagers adapted to drinking nectar, and are sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds due to their slender beaks and continual busyness. Found from Mexico to Southern Brazil, for decades this species has been popular in zoos and private aviaries where they have been bred for more than 60 years. Unusual among tanagers, males molt out their brilliant blue and black pattern for part of the year, resembling the streaky green females. Both have bright yellow feathers concealed under their wings that are visible when in flight.
Purple-throated fruitcrow, Querula purpurata
Despite their name, the several species of fruitcrows are not related to crows at all, though they do eat many kinds of fruit, which they gather both while in flight and perching in trees. Like many other members of the cotinga family, the males have a distinctive display, courting the all black females by flaring out their brilliant throat feathers (which can appear bright red), shaking their tails back and forth and making piercing calls. A relative of the Cock-of-the-rock, this species has only rarely been kept in captivity, despite being found over a vast area of South America, as well as Costa Rica and Panama. It was not bred in a zoo until 2006, when the Wuppertal Zoo in Germany was successful.
The 328 species of hummingbirds form an entirely New World family. They have always fascinated humans. Mayans told how they were the scraps left after other birds were created. Watching them defend their territories, the Aztecs declared them warriors in bird form, back on earth after dying in battle and serving the Sun for four years. Observing their nests, Taroscans said hummingbirds taught them basket-weaving, while some Andean tribes consider them symbols of the Resurrection, as they awake from their unique torpor in cold temperatures. Some of the more visible hummingbirds at the DWA are: Sparkling violetear (Colibri coruscans), Green mango (Anthracocothorax viridis), Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus), Puerto Rican emerald (Chlorostilbon maugaeus) and the Giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas).
Scarlet macaw, Ara macao
This marvelous parrot was one of the first New World animals brought alive to Europe, in the 1500s. Long before, it was prized as a pet, and for its feathers, by many Native American cultures. Live birds were traded to Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico for more than 700 years. Known as Mo to the Mayans, it was revered by their Kings, some of who wore rubber rings on their faces in honor of it. Threatened in Mexico and Central America, it remains common in much of South America. First hatched in the US in 1916, it breeds well in captivity.
Birds of El Triunfo
Harpy eagle, Harpia harpyja
A top-of-the-food chain predator, this enormous bird is not abundant anywhere in its vast range from the Mexican States of Veracruz and Oaxaca south to Argentina, Bolivia, and Southern Brazil. A specialist in eating sloths and monkeys, it depends on extensive forest, so is considered Near-Threatened due to habitat loss. Females may exceed 20 pounds in weight. Probably kept by Montezuma, it was displayed in Europe as early as 1778. The first successful captive breeding did not occur until 1981. The female displayed at the DWA hatched at the San Diego Zoo.
Species Survival Plan (SSP) indicates species that are listed as endangered by USFWS