FROM ZOO TO YOU Happy Bird-days!

By Julianne Turner

The state of Kansas acts as a summer home to a wide variety of birds. Baltimore orioles, red-headed woodpeckers, yellow warblers, Mississippi kites, and many others migrate to our region during the spring and stick around to enjoy the warmest time of year. There is a great diversity of colors and songs as these birds fly around town.

Garden City actually has more types of birds living here than any other town in western Kansas! While the migratory species that come through are about the same as you would see elsewhere, the Lee Richardson Zoo is home to another 30 species of birds from all over the world that you aren’t likely to see around here.

If you are a fan of our fine feathered friends, you will certainly have a great time visiting many different areas of the zoo. In the African Plains and Wild Asia sections, you will find a variety of crane species. You can find rheas in South America, and emus Down Under. Both of these species are often confused with ostriches as they are tall flightless birds. Flamingos can be found by the Duck Pond, with a couple of trumpeter swans close by. And if all of these aren’t enough for you, be sure to spend some time in the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary!

Here you can walk into the free-flight aviary and be surrounded by birds of all shapes and colors. Looking at the ground, you might see a roadrunner jogging past or a duck laying on a nest. Gaze up in the trees, and you may find a Nicobar pigeon or a laughing kookaburra. The aviary is a great spot to slow down and rest a while and see how many species you can find in one space.

This week we are celebrating a few “hatch days” of different birds around the zoo! A hatch day is just like a birthday, but for animals who hatch out of eggs. In the Aviary, Rosado the scarlet ibis will celebrate their fourth hatch day this weekend! The scarlet ibis is the bright pink bird that often sits in the top of the trees in the aviary, and it’s easily mistaken as a small flamingo due to its color.

Speaking of our tall pink friends, two of the zoo’s resident flamingos are also celebrating their hatch days this week! Emma will be 10, and Ellie is turning 18 years old! Flamingos can live up to 30 years in human care, so while both of these lovely ladies are full-grown, they are still in their prime. You can say hello to Emma, Ellie, and the rest of the flock over by the duck pond at the new flamingo habitat.

The next time you visit the zoo, be sure to stop by and say hello to your favorite feathered friends. If you want a challenge, try to count how many different species of birds you can find around the zoo!

Julianne Turner is the guest engagement coordinator at Lee Richardson Zoo.