Passeriformes

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Rupicola rupicola

Description: Male Guianan cocks-of-the-rock are bright orange birds with large, orange, half-moon crests on their heads. This edge of the crest is lined with a brown band. The crest remains erect and covers the bill. They have black and white wing bars and black on their tails. The bill, legs, and skin are orange as […]

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Blue dacnis

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.

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Bay-headed tanager

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.

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Golden tanager

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.

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Bali mynah

Bali mynah, Leucopsar rothschildi

Unknown to science until 1912, this gorgeous starling was first bred in captivity in 1931. Since the 1960s, thousands have been bred in zoos around the world (including the DWA), resulting in a self-sustaining genetically healthy population. On its native island of Bali, in Indonesia, its population fell to a dozen by 1999, due to illegal trapping. Recent attempts to reintroduce it to the wild have been encouraging.

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Capuchinbird

Capuchinbird, Perissocephalus tricolor

This strange bird, with its bald head and huge dark eyes, is also known as the Calf bird, because of its remarkably loud deep call. Like the Cock-of-the-rock, it is a member of the Cotinga family, found only in Tropical America. Its range is defined by the intersection of three rivers: Amazon, Orinoco, and Rio Negro. Though first taken into captivity nearly 60 years ago, it has always been a treasured rarity in zoos. Until the DWA achieved multiple successes in 2011, the only full captive breedings had been at San Diego Zoo, in the 1990s.

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Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Rupicola peruvianus

Every year since 2007, this remarkable bird has reproduced at the DWA. Through May 2011, 40 had hatched here, with 26 surviving to independence. Prior to this time, the total number successfully reared in US zoos were four at Houston and one at San Diego, with the last hatching occurring in 1989. Offspring from the DWA have been sent around the world, and the first second generation breedings took place at the San Diego Zoo in 2011, with males from Dallas. While performing their courtship display, males make buzzing shrieks that can be heard throughout the Orinoco. Nesting takes place in specially built artificial caves.

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Curl-crested jay

Curl-crested jay, Cyanocorax cristatellus

Found mostly in Brazil, as well as bordering parts of Bolivia and Paraguay, this uniquely colored jay could be seen in several American zoos in the 1970s, but has not been imported for many years. The DWA’s specimen, received through the cooperation of the Brazilian Government in 2000, is probably the only one outside of South America.

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Crested oropendola

Crested oropendola, Psaracolius decumanus

Like the Green oropendola, this species comes from Northeastern South America. Its icy blue eyes contrast with its black feathers. The yellow tail feathers of oropendolas are prized by Native Americans for use in elaborate head dresses. Oropendolas prefer building their nests over water, and several can always be observed over the Orinoco crocodiles. Both Green and Crested oropendolas have bred at the DWA.

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Green oropendola

Green oropendola, Psaracolius viridis

These enormous grackle relatives are one of several species that build the hanging nests, looking like hairy bags, which can be seen in various places in the Orinoco rainforest. Males are much larger than females. The aquarium’s specimens are very fond of crickets and other insects and will come down to visitor level when their keeper provides them. They are skillful at picking them up with their beautiful two-colored beaks.

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