Anywhere you look at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, you're bound to see one of our feathered friends - in the wild, perched on a fence, or in an enclosure. The zoo is home to numerous chickens, peacocks, parrots and raptors.
While parrots are tropical birds, they can become acclimated to live outside all year in this area.
As early as pre-Colombian times, these beautiful birds were valued as companion animals for humans. Unfortunately, as demand has grown worldwide, parrots are smuggled out of their natural forests in central and South America to supply the "pet trade." Because of this, some species have become endangered or extinct.
If you are seeking a pet, make sure your parrot has been hatched in captivity. Be aware that parrots are extremely long lived and if trained improperly by humans can be loud, destructive and aggressive toward members of their human family.
Parrots living at the zoo include Luther, Andy and Larry Bird.
Colorful macaws are the largest members of the parrot family. They live in large flocks in South American forests. Long lived and intelligent, macaws can be agreeable pets if an owner is properly educated and experienced with caring for large parrots.
If trained improperly by humans, they can also be jealous of, and dangerous to other family members, as well as aggressive, loud and destructive. Like all parrots, macaws have a voice box called a syrinx, so they can mimic sounds. Males and females are colored alike.
Increasingly endangered, many wild birds die in smuggling operations to supply the pet trade. If you purchase a pet bird, you can help save the species by making sure your bird was bred in captivity.
The zoo's macaws Bill and Bingo, who have respiratory ailments due to smoke and bad air, now have a new climate and air quality controlled home.
The $25,000 macaw home was funded by The Friends of the Folsom Zoo.
Raptors (birds of prey including eagles, hawks, and owls)
The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
The species was on the brink of extirpation in the continental United States (while flourishing in much of Alaska and Canada) late in the 20th century, but now has a stable population and was officially removed from the U.S. federal government's list of endangered species in 2007.
Bald eagles are not actually bald, the name deriving from the older meaning of the word, "white headed".
Stretch your arms as wide as you can. Unless you are a very tall basketball player, you won't match the 7-foot wingspan of the Golden eagle. These strong wings let the bird soar high on thermal updrafts. Keen eyes can spot prey a mile away. Powerful sharp talons (claws) catch and hold mammals and other birds. These large raptors are named for their golden neck feathers.
Golden eagles mate for life. Eagle nests can be huge (as big and heavy as a small truck) with the pair adding new material for many years. Both parents incubate the 2 or 3 eggs and work together to raise the young. Eggs are incubated immediately upon laying, so chicks hatch at different times. Often the larger chick predominates and smaller chicks don't survive.
All of our eagles are exhibited with the permission of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Red tailed hawks
Red-tailed hawks belong to a group of birds known as raptors, as do falcons, eagles and owls. All raptors grasp prey with strong feet equipped with sharp claws called talons. The curved beak is designed to tear food from prey animals like small mammals and snakes. These birds also help control rodent population.
The rusty red tail and flat silhouette distinguishes the soaring red tailed hawk from the v-shape of the turkey vulture. Males and females are the same color, but as with most raptors, the females are larger.
Owls - silent hunters of the night
Owls can see three times better in the dark than humans can. But owls hunt mostly by listening. Their big, round faces gather sounds and direct them to their ears. One ear is set high on the side of the head and one is set low. Owls move their heads until the sound of the prey animal is equally loud in both ears. They glide silently on soft, fuzzy feathered wings and capture their meal with sharp, hooked claws.
Owls usually eat food whole. Some unused parts – like fur, feathers and bone – are compressed into a soft pellet which the owl coughs up. You can find these under trees or in barns. By gently pulling them apart, you can see with the owl has been eating. A Great Horned owl's “horns” or “cat ears” are really tufts of feathers.
All native birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. It is unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture or kill; attempt to take, capture or kill; possess, offer to or sell, barter, purchase, deliver or cause to be shipped, exported, imported, transported, carried or received any migratory bird, part, nest, egg or product, manufactured or not. Only Native Americans with federal permits may legally possess eagle feathers which are used for ceremonial purposes. There is a stiff fine for illegal possession of raptor feathers.
Ravens, crows, magpies, jays
Ravens, crows, magpies and jays all belong to the intelligent family Corvidas. You can tell a raven from a crow by its larger size, wedge-shaped tail, shaggy throat feathers and heavy, curved beak. Ravens live mostly in mountains and along seashores. Highly social, ravens are often seen congregating with wolves at kill sites. After feeding, the birds have been seen playing tag with, or teasing the wolves. People have observed ravens guiding wolves to potential prey, knowing some meat will be left for the birds.
Ravens eat a wide variety of foods, including meat, insects, small mammals, birds, eggs, shellfish and fruit. They are part of nature's clean up crew, with carrion a significant part of their diet.