Highlights of Loro Parque breeding season 2016: Gang-gang Cockatoo, Pesquet’s Parrots and Red-vented Cockatoos

August 24th, 2016 | by Rafael Zamora Padron
Highlights of Loro Parque breeding season 2016: Gang-gang Cockatoo, Pesquet’s Parrots and Red-vented Cockatoos

The breeding season is almost over for some species such as the group of Psittacula. The amazon parrots are also rearing their last nestlings. Now begins a period of rest in which the parrots of these species will no longer reproduce and will start a delicate but very important phase, the moulting period. It is now, when small feathers fall to the floor of the aviaries, that breeders must pay special attention to the health of their birds. The process of moulting will prepare the future breeding pair for the next season.

It is also an important period for the one and two year old young birds, whose plumage will affect their size and ability to attract a mate. Their robustness and fertility is directly related to their ability to fly. If the primary feathers grow strong, they will allow the birds to develop their pectoral muscles well. Even copulations will depend on the good structure of wings and tail. Many breeders consider this time a bit boring and neglect the care of the aviaries. However, nothing could be further from reality.

During this time we improve hygiene measures and take the opportunity to observe as much as possible our birds, which during this period become a little more reserved and inactive. Moulting is a renewal process that involves rest and avoids sudden movements. In the case of parrots this process is slower than in other species and their metabolism makes considerable effort to create new structures.


Callocephalon fimbriatum RZP(1)

Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) (c) Rafael Zamora Padron


Frequent baths, sun exposure and a fresh and light diet, rich in calcium, will allow them to reach winter in peak condition. In this phase the bonds of parrots living together in pairs are also reinforced, since the new emerging plumage cause itching and discomfort. The partner helps by breaking gently the sheath that surrounds the new feathers. This help is essential and also enjoyable for them. It is a painstaking work that involves trust between like-minded individuals: a behaviour that allows us to measure the compatibility of a pair.

Several chicks have become real stars, as in the case of a beautiful Gang-Gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum), which grows every day and can be viewed by the many visitors to Loro Parque during these months.

The Pesquet’s parrots (Psittrichas fulgidus) are having a great season with numerous breeding successes. In the middle of August, a hatchling managed to scale a stunning palm trunk of Washingtonia filifera in order to get back into its deep nest, which was excavated by its parents. His behaviour is surprisingly interesting. His parents have been challenging and claiming their territory during the incubation period. However, during the first flights of their nestlings, they have remained silent and shy in order not to attract the attention of any possible predator. The hatchling behaves as if it were an adult. In fact, the young bird camouflages itself well and can not be distinguished from the adults.


Psittrichias fulgidus Rafael Zamora

Pesquet’s Parrot (Psittrichias fulgidus), (c) Rafael Zamora Padron


To observe this behaviour in the facilities of Loro Parque Fundación is not only an immense privilege, it also vindicates the good conditions for the species such that it shows the complete cycle of its biology.

This species has always been reserved for exclusive breeding centres worldwide, given that it is a little known bird. It is therefore a big challenge for breeders who try to succeed in their attempts to breed it.

Pesquet´s parrots have always had a star position within the wide range of species that can be seen in Loro Parque. A strange bird in appearance, it resembles a vulture with a black face. This is the result of the evolution of animals that put the head completely into the overripe fruit, as carrion birds do into the entrails of dead animals. This bare skin on the face allows them to keep it thoroughly clean.

Similar to a giant lory, it was first successfully bred in Loro Parque in the 1980s, and at the time was a milestone in aviculture. Since then, more than two dozen specimens have been born in our facilities.


Cacatua haematuropygia S Rafael Zamora Padrón

Red-vented Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) (c) Rafael Zamora Padron


The Philippine Cockatoos (Cacatua haematuropygia) are also growing healthily. In the breeding station of Loro Parque Fundación we can still observe different pairs attempting to mate, although most of the cockatoos at this latitude will start the resting period.

This is also the period during which the chicks raised by their parents socialize with hand reared chicks. In addition they socialize with those from foster parents or reared by other species (cross-fostered). They live in large aviaries where they can develop their motor skills and muscles, as well as their social skills and recognition of themselves as parrots and as belonging to a particular species. At this time we can determine the sex of the young birds by endoscopy in our clinic. Our veterinarians have immense experience with this method, which also allows us to perform a rapid visual evaluation of the internal health of each bird.

What is more, now the time when many species of parrots breed in the southern hemisphere is approaching, and we are preparing them to arrive at this crucial point in top condition. The review of the diet and natural supplements allows us to observe sensational behaviours, about which we will continue to report in this news-space; a space where we desire the reader not only to obtain information from our reports, but also to learn from the experiences of Loro Parque and Loro Parque Fundación.


author: Rafael Zamora Padrón, Biologist – specialisation Zoology

Title photo: Rafael Zamora Padrón


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