Birdie Biology

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Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors.  Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about jobs, and then blog about their experience online.  Follow their adventure here!

This week we met with Dr. Tom Jensen, a Scientist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. He works on the  reproductive physiology of birds, more specifically the kiwi. His job not only consists of research, but also working as a teacher for his students and writing grants for his division. Although he is a very busy person, he found the time to show us just what is so magnificent and interesting about the avian world.

Meet Dr. Tom Jensen, Scientist in the Reproductive Physiology Division at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. He has worked for the research arm of the Zoo for thirteen years and focuses primarily on birds.

Dr. Jensen’s focus is the kiwi, an endangered, flightless bird native to New Zealand that has been around for about 25 million years.

In the incubation room, Dr. Jensen showed us the different stages of development for the egg, from an oocyte to a fully developed chick.

Dr. Jensen carefully assists Scott with sanding his egg. This technique is used by many scientists in order to gain access to the embryo without destroying it.

Hayden smiles for the camera holding his newly sanded egg. He is ready for the next step in our activity, opening it up in order to observe the premature chick.

Keira works patiently at peeling away the eggshell membrane while Madison observes. This process takes time and patience.

In the top right corner of the egg you can see the premature chick. Dr. Jensen uses this technique to open an egg so he can observe what is going on inside and gather vital information.

Robin, Photo Team
Fall 2012, week six