2017 has been a successful breeding year for a number of species, but a centre first, and quite possibly a UK first, was the fledging of our Mountain caracara, 'Ted'.
On 8th May 2017, our pair of Mountain Caracaras laid an egg. By looking at the CCTV cameras set up on the nest and surrounding area, we had witnessed them copulating a number of times and were quite certain the egg could be fertile.
Unfortunately, neither parents showed any interest in incubating the egg and by the time the second egg was laid on the 10th May, the first was practically buried underneath the nesting substrate. Therefore, after a week the decision was made to remove both the eggs and begin artificial incubation.
After 31 days of incubation, we were starting to see signs of hatching, but unfortunately, the first chick to hatch was underdeveloped and sadly died. The second chick, however, hatched successfully on 21st June and was hand reared for the initial 10 days.
Without wanting to hand rear the chick fully, the decision was made to put it under foster parents. Our Crested Caracaras have proven to be extremely good foster parents to other Cararcara species in the past, so on July 2nd, we swapped their chicks, which were close to fledging, with the Mountain Caracara chick and after a tense few moments, witnessed the Crested Caracaras tending to the chick.
The Crested Caracaras reared the chick successfully, until on 6th August, the chick fledged the nest. He then stayed with his foster parents for another 2-3 weeks. At this stage we believe we are the first in the UK to breed Mountain Caracaras successfully. it was also our 43rd species to be bred at the centre in the 29 years of opening.
Ted, as he has been named, is currently in training to be flown as part of the centre's daily displays, with the possibility of becoming a breeding bird in the future.