KTSM Goes Wild: How thick-billed parrots bond with each other before breeding

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso Zoo has two thick-billed parrots living in the Chihuahuan Desert Exhibit. Zookeepers hope the birds, who are fond of each other, produce more chicks to help with the population of the native parrot.

“They are native technically to El Paso, although they are found more in the area of Mexico. There are only three to 6,000 in the wild, so it’s very rare to find them here natively,” said Danielle Balague, a senior zookeeper at the El Paso Zoo.

Balague said the parrot’s courtship involves preening each other, feeding each other and just general canoodling.

“Junior has been here for a while, but Juniper, our girl, just came a little bit over a year ago. Pretty much as soon as we put them together, they bonded,” she said. “They are very interested in always being together. He does protect (her), especially when she is getting ready to nest. So we are really hoping this year that we’ll have kind of that successful chick.”

The pair has already produced one egg. Balague said since it was their first egg, they were still figuring it out and the egg was not fertile.

“We did let them kind of nest with it. They were acting very much the way we would want those parents to act. We are hoping this year, we’ll get a fertile egg and they’ll be able to hatch that egg out into a chick. It’s usually 24 to 26 days after their laying that they incubate that egg. We are kind of crossing our fingers to see how they do today,” she said.

Zookeepers said something most people do not know is that Junior is a little bit of a show off.

“He likes to hang on the fencing and flap his winds and get you to look at him — and that’s all he wants is for you to look at him and pay attention,” said Balague.

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