A prehistoric pterodactyl is sure to come to mind when you see the latest additions at the Lee Richardson Zoo. And although they are not dinosaurs, the three Hamerkop chicks hatched on July 16 and 17 bear a remarkable resemblance to these giant, ancient creatures. Hamerkops are an African wading bird whose long heavy beak and backward pointing crest cause their head to resemble a hammer.
This is the first breeding season for the zoo’s pair, a male that arrived at the zoo in 2007 and a female that came last fall. The two spent the winter getting acquainted and got right down to business building their unique nest when released into the flight cage in May. Their nest, which is about 3-4 feet tall and 3 feet across, dominates a tree in the center of the Marie Osterbuhr Aviary. The babies are not yet visible as they are still in the nest, however they should fledge in the next week or so, testing their wings in the free flight exhibit. Keepers report that the babies are quite noisy and have a lot of attitude, pecking at the camera that was peeking over the edge of the nest in an attempt to snap a photo.