Taronga Western Plains Zoo has a sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of native species. One of the conservation breeding programs taking place in the sanctuary is for the endangered Plains-wanderer.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been really successful in the breeding of Plains-wanderer, with a total of 10 chicks hatching in 2020. In December 2020, four chicks hatched from two different clutches and these birds recently underwent their first health check.
The health checks involve keepers catching up the birds and veterinary staff conducting a physical examination.
The health checks involve keepers catching up the birds and veterinary staff conducting a physical examination. During these checks, the birds are weighed and then have their whole body assessed, which includes feeling their body condition, their wings and checking their feathers, eyes and beaks for any abnormalities. The chicks are also given leg bands for identification purposes.
The sex of the bird is also determined at this health check based on the feather colour and weight. Females possess a rufous breast plate or gorget and a white-spotted black collar, they are also larger than the males. Females weigh between 55-90 grams and males weigh between 40-60 grams. From the weight and colouration of the four chicks that were processed, it was determined that there were three males and one female and all were in great condition.
Plains-wanderer are mature at approximately two months of age. These birds can soon be paired up with a bird of the opposite sex to become a part of the conservation breeding program here in Dubbo.