A New “Tree” for Woodpeckers

A yellow-naped woodpecker is hard at work.

A yellow-naped woodpecker is hard at work.

Nothing beats natural behavior. Allowing birds to use their evolved traits, behaviors, and abilities usually results in a healthier bird in both mind and body. We encourage natural foraging behaviors by hiding earthworms in loose soil for the kiwis to hunt. We do bug scatters in the diving duck aviary for the ducks to dive for (it is so cool to watch!). And we try to make available various nesting material the birds would look for and use in the wild. Hummingbirds get spider webs, weavers get thorny twigs, and woodpeckers get…hmm…how do you replicate the tall, thick, dead trees most woodpeckers prefer to use in the wild? The San Diego Zoo’s Horticulture department does such a good job at keeping the trees alive and healthy that there are not many dead trees available. Not to mention that it would be difficult to actually move those trunks into the exhibit!

Enter the cork nest! The ingenious box was developed by curator Peter Shannon and his team at Albuquerque Biological Park. The nest box has plywood sheets on the top, bottom, and three sides. The fourth side is open, exposing the cork. The idea is that the cork is hard enough to provide the birds a tough substance to chip away at but is soft enough for them to still make progress. Here’s a photo essay and video of what happened…

On February 3, 2014, I used a tool to make a small indent in the hard cork on the front of the nest box and installed the box in the yellow-napped woodpecker’s Picus chlorolophus exhibit, which is just up the hill from the turtle exhibit on Tiger Trail.

#1: On February 3, 2014, I used a tool to make a small indent in the hard cork on the front of the nest box and installed the box in the yellow-napped woodpecker’s Picus chlorolophus exhibit, which is just up the hill from the turtle exhibit on Tiger Trail.

Within hours, the male was clinging to the front of the nest box and was working away at the starter hole I had made! You can see that the woodpeckers are much better at making circles than I am…how embarrassing.

Within hours, the male was clinging to the front of the nest box and was working away at the starter hole I had made! You can see that the woodpeckers are much better at making circles than I am…how embarrassing.

After congratulating myself for thinking about making the starter hole, I walked into work on February 9 to see this. Hmm, obviously I didn’t put the starter hole in the right place and the birds had come up with their own location.

After congratulating myself for thinking about making the starter hole, I walked into work on February 9 to see this. Hmm, obviously I didn’t put the starter hole in the right place and the birds had come up with their own location.

By February 16, though, the birds had come up with an even better spot!

By February 16, though, the birds had come up with an even better spot!

 A week later, the three holes look like a surprised cork ghost...

A week later, the three holes look like a surprised cork ghost…

 ...and by March 16, a scared cork ghost!

…and by March 16, a scared cork ghost!

It has been such a joy these past few weeks to see both of the woodpeckers engaging in their natural nesting behavior. At the time of this writing, the bottom hole is the most extensive cavity that reaches to the very bottom of the nest. The upper right hole is also large but does not extend or break through to the bottom hole. And the top center hole—the one I helpfully started for them—nothing. I think they just worked on it to be nice.

The video below is not the up-close-and-personal video I’ve tried to show in the past. But I think it is great in that it was taken from the guest walkway and is exactly what observant—and lucky—guests might be able to see for themselves! In the video, the woodpecker is “corkpecking” and chipping away at the material. Later in the day, I was delighted to see the female’s pointy beak emerge full of loose bits of cork. She spat the cork out, ducked back into the nest, and emerged seconds later with another mouthful of excavated cork. How cool!

Woodpecker Video

Mike Grue is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, A Trick up Her “Sleeves.”


Condor Egg Fails to Hatch

This dummy egg looks just like a real California condor egg and serves as a placeholder.

This dummy egg looks just like a real California condor egg and serves as a placeholder.

As keepers, we often have the privilege to witness or even help usher in a new hatch or birth into the world. Of course, working alongside our excellent veterinary staff, we provide assistance and supportive care to maximize survivability, but sadly, sometimes it isn’t enough. We experienced this recently at our California condor breeding facility at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park when one of our condor eggs failed to hatch. This egg was expected to hatch under our experienced Condor Cam parents, Sisquoc and Shatash, who for the last two years have raised their chicks, Saticoy and Cuyamaca, under the watchful and adoring eyes of thousands of their fans. Saticoy is now flying free in Southern California, and Cuyamaca was recently sent to Arizona to be prepared for release there.

We usually remove the egg after it is laid so we can artificially incubate it and monitor its development without disturbing the very protective parents. While we are caring for the real egg, we give the parents a fake egg (called a dummy egg) to incubate. This dummy egg serves as a placeholder until the real egg is ready to hatch; without it, the parents would not accept the real egg when we would try to replace it in their nest.

While we were caring for Sisquoc and Shatash’s egg, we weighed it daily to track its weight loss, and we candled it periodically to monitor development inside the shell. During incubation, we noticed that the embryo was slightly in the wrong position to hatch—a malposition. Some malpositions are lethal or need our help to hatch successfully. This embryo’s malposition was not extreme and would not normally need our assistance. What was more concerning was the condition of the membranes surrounding the embryo: loose and saggy when they should have been taut. Concern grew that these membranes would cause difficulty in breathing for the embryo once it moved into the egg’s air cell to begin pulmonary respiration. The loose membranes could adhere to the embryo’s nostrils, suffocating it.

Despite 24-hour care from our keepers and a valiant effort from our veterinary staff, the embryo stopped breathing partway through the hatching process on Sunday, March 16, 2014. The egg was expected to hatch around March 20. The embryo and egg are now at our Pathology Lab; hopefully, we will have more information regarding the cause of death.

Egg mortality is highest at the beginning and at the end of the egg’s incubation period. Sometimes there can be a genetic issue causing the embryo to stop developing. Sometimes the egg can get too hot or too cold during incubation, the egg can get jostled, humidity can be too high or too low, etc. Despite setbacks such as this, our “hatchability” rate at the Safari Park is still very high at over 85% success, much higher than wild eggs that have to contend with nest predators, competitors, and a lack of veterinary support.

So, what’s next for Sisquoc and Shatash? They are still incubating their dummy egg perfectly and are being considered as potential foster parents if another condor egg needs to be parent-reared. They will still sit on the dummy egg, even after the due date of their original egg, but only for about a month or so. After that, they will start to tend to the egg less. We see this behavior in birds that are incubating an infertile egg or an egg that died during incubation. If another condor egg needs to be foster-reared, we can return that egg to their nest, and they will hatch it and raise it as their own. Their drive to care for an egg/chick is so strong that they don’t know or care if it’s not their egg. If another egg doesn’t need fostering, we will remove the dummy egg from their nest. They will then shift from nest-caring duties and spend more time in their flight pen. It may seem sad, but that is what happens to wild birds whose eggs do not hatch.

What’s next for Condor Cam? We have moved the camera to a different nest to show you another of our awesome condor pairs, Sulu and Towich, whose egg is due mid-April. Stay tuned for a blog introducing the new pair.

Thanks so much for all of the comments and condolences regarding the loss of Sisquoc and Shatash’s egg. There are still 30 other California condors at the Safari Park that need us to give them the best care we can. With hope, luck, and your support, we can continue to maximize success for these magnificent birds!

Ron Webb is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read his previous post,
Egg-citing News on Condor Cam


A Trick Up Her “Sleeves”

What tricks did this bird have up her "sleeves"?

A male blue-crowned hanging parrot has a red “bib” whereas the female does not.

I never stop learning at the San Diego Zoo. It is one of the best things about working here! I am constantly challenged to learn more about the birds I work with, the exhibits I work in, and how I can take better care of both. Sometimes I learn technical skills like how to install a mister system that can be utilized to give the birds a bath. Or I can read up on tips to successfully breed red-billed leiothrix Leiothrix lutea. Many times I learn from simply observing the birds go about their daily routines.

A few days ago, I was doing an end-of-the-day check on the blue-crowned hanging parrots Loriculus galgulus just up the hill from the tiger exhibit. As I was getting a head count, one of the birds caught my eye. It looked like one of the adorable little females had done something to her primary feathers. It seemed as if she had lost some of the barbules at the tips of her long, green feathers; it made her back look spiky. She was perched on a palm frond, chewing on a leaflet, and didn’t seem to be concerned with her odd feathers. After a few moments, she quickly flicked her head back to preen the spiky feathers and then returned to her chewing. A few more moments, another quick flick and preen, and back to the frond.

It's easy to see how the blue-crowned hanging parrot got its name!

It’s easy to see how the blue-crowned hanging parrot got its name!

It was after the third or fourth flick that I started to suspect what the tiny parrot was doing. My first reaction was that I must be imagining it—she surely wasn’t doing what I thought she was doing, was she? I had never heard of such a behavior, and I couldn’t believe she was being so smart…so efficient.

I crouched down in front of the exhibit to get the best vantage possible. I stopped watching her quick flicks, chewing, and preening, and instead focused on her spiky back. With a quick movement, the female turned her head, preened, and went back to her work. But there was a new spiky green “feather” in her back!

She wasn’t preening broken feathers after all! She was snipping little bits off the palm frond, sticking the cuttings onto her back, and using her feathers to hold them in place! I knew these little parrots lined their nests with strips of plant material, but I had never envisioned them using their back feathers as a type of backpack. With only one trip from her nest, this female was able to bring back over half a dozen strips to her nest instead of the paltry one strip she could’ve brought back if she had carried it in her beak.

This behavior has been documented before, but it is not something seen on a regular basis. Indeed, after eight years working with birds, I had never even heard of it. It makes me excited to find out what other tricks these birds have up their sleeves…er, feathers.

Mike Grue is a senior bird keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, Sing, Song.


Sing, Song

Listen to the red-billed leiothrix's song!

Listen to the red-billed leiothrix’s song below!

Birds can make some of the most beautiful music in the world. The sweet call of the northern cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis tells us spring is coming. The majestic cry of the red-tailed hawk Buteo jamaicensis evokes a sense of being connected to nature—the sound most movies incorrectly play when they have a bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus on the screen. Loons sound so lonely and remorseful, it can make the heart ache. While those sounds evoke a variety of emotions in humans, birds sing and call for different reasons. Sometimes they may sing to announce their territory, to communicate with their mate, or to attract a mate in the first place.

The San Diego Zoo’s beautiful pair of red-billed leiothrix (pronounced LY oh THRIX) Leiothrix lutea in the enclosure just up the hill from the tigers take singing to the next level. The male has a wonderful repertoire of warbling whistles. He has so many notes, and it varies so much, it sounds like a new song every time he sings. To start the duet, the male spends about ten seconds delivering a gorgeous song before he takes a break. Then it’s the female’s turn. In the pause after the song, the female utters a low-pitched chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp. That’s it! Following the female’s contribution, the male picks right back up with another round of lovely notes. Once he finishes…chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp. Another song…chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp.

red-billed leiothrixAt first I couldn’t tell exactly what was going on, but after listening for awhile I noticed a few things:

1) The female never interrupts the male mid-song; she always waits until he is done to deliver her chirps.

2) The female chirps three to five times—with four being the most common.

3) The male starts his song again after her chirps, but waits for her chirps before he starts up again. This became obvious when I heard him finish his song, but the female didn’t call back right away. She was delayed because she was eating and had just swallowed a large piece of fruit! The minute she could, she chirped to complete her end of the duet.

Why does she chirp? Why does the male seem to find her call so important? I don’t know. I haven’t found any literature to suggest that they are actually “duetting” in the formal sense of the term. But when both of the birds seem to take their cue from each other, I think the term is appropriate. Either way, it is extremely interesting and quite cute!

Check out this vocal pair of birds uphill from the tiger exhibit (just next to the turtle exhibit on Tiger Trail).


On the audio, we first hear the male producing a short song followed by the female’s lower pitched, encouraging chirps. They continue back and forth for some time with the longest and most impressive song at the end of the recording. The female chirped anywhere from seven to ten times between the male’s song. This is a higher number of chirps than I had heard earlier in the month. I wonder if the female chirps more as the pair gets closer to the breeding season? Something to look forward to listening for as winter passes and spring starts to round the corner.

Mike Grue is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, Pick on Someone Your Own Size!


Egg-citing News on Condor Cam

A precious California condor egg is candled to check on fertility and condition.

A precious California condor egg is candled to check on fertility and condition.

We have good news to report: California condors Sisquoc and Shatash’s egg is FERTILE! Shatash laid the egg on January 22, 2014, and we are expecting it to begin the hatching process around March 18. So, it is approximately one-third of the way through its 56-day incubation period.

Condor Cam viewers have been watching Sisquoc and Shatash take turns caring for and incubating their egg. Well, actually, they’ve been caring for a wooden egg that we refer to as a dummy egg. We use a dummy egg as a placeholder until their real egg is ready to hatch. It’s not as if we don’t trust them with a real egg; on the contrary, they have proven to be very reliable parents! When we place the egg in an incubator, and let the parents sit on a dummy egg, we can more closely and conveniently monitor the egg’s progress and offer any necessary assistance without disturbing the doting parents.

We weigh the egg every day and candle it every few days. When we candle the egg, we hold it up to a bright light that illuminates the interior of the egg, allowing us to see inside. We can monitor blood vessels, membrane development, embryo growth, and movement. As of now, we can see the embryo, which is about 2 inches (5 centimeters) long, moving inside the shell; we can also see its eyes! By weighing and candling during the incubation period, we can make sure that the embryo is progressing normally, and if it isn’t, we can prepare to offer help if and when it is needed.

If all goes well during incubation, and the egg begins the hatching process, we carefully switch it with the dummy egg while the parents are out in the flight pen eating or sunning. They usually don’t even realize we switched eggs on them; they just return to their incubation duties.

As previously mentioned, both the male and female condor take turns sitting on the egg. An incubation bout may only last a few minutes before the parent gets off of the egg and leaves the nest box, or it may sit for the whole day. When the parents take turns on the egg, we call it a nest exchange. Sometimes a nest exchange is immediate: one parent enters the nest, and the other parent gets off of the egg and leaves. Other times, a nest exchange may be long, leaving the egg unattended for up to 30 minutes while the parents are outside eating, bathing, sunning, or socializing. During a long nest exchange, the egg cools down, but not usually enough to endanger the egg, especially with successful and experienced parents like Sisquoc and Shatash. Many times both parents are in the nest area—one may perch in the nearby roost while the other sits on the egg—seemingly keeping each other company.

During nesting season, California condors can be surprisingly territorial and defensive of their nest. Usually, they are very mild-mannered and calm, but when they have a precious egg or chick in the area, they defend it. One of the field biologists in California reported a pair of condors swooping and chasing a black bear away from their nest! Despite being very tough and strong birds, they can be very gentle when it comes to caring for their egg or their chick.

Keep checking in on Condor Cam to follow the progress of Sisquoc and Shatash’s egg and eventual chick!

Ron Webb is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read his previous post, A New Egg on Condor Cam.


Pick on Someone Your Own Size!

A Reichenow's weaver gathers nest material.

A Reichenow’s weaver gathers nest material.

Valentine’s Day may be tomorrow, but the birds at the San Diego Zoo are already wooing their sweethearts, and I’d like to share a story about a brave male weaver sticking up for his shy girlfriend.

Reichenow’s weavers Ploceus baglafecht reichenowi aren’t known for being aggressive birds. They are small, black-and-yellow birds with great personalities and have a tendency to get along with all their roommates. That’s why I was surprised to see the San Diego Zoo’s male Reichenow’s weaver (in the African aviary between Scripps aviary and the gorilla exhibit) get into a disagreement with an oriole warbler Hypergerus atriceps. When I explain why he told off the larger female oriole warbler, you may think that he was only being fair….

At the time of the incident, the oriole warbler had only been in the exhibit for a few days. During her introduction into the exhibit, she had established a few favorite perches. One day the weaver female accidentally flew to one of the oriole warbler’s favorite perches right when the oriole warbler was trying to land there! They landed on the branch at about the same time, and the warbler scolded the weaver female. Sternly squabbled at, the weaver immediately flew to a neutral perch and seemed to be content to let the matter rest. Her mate was not!

An oriole warbler is the new bird on the block.

An oriole warbler is the new bird on the block.

The scolding oriole warbler must have attracted the male weaver’s attention, because he launched himself across the aviary, landed next to the startled warbler, and gave her the same scolding she had given his mate moments earlier. The warbler instantly backed down and flew off, leaving the male weaver to fly over to his mate to make sure she was okay. I kept an eye on this trio for the next few days and saw that everyone was getting along and had easily moved past the misunderstanding.

I think we could draw a number of funny, anthropomorphic tales from this interaction, but I do think that the weaver female hadn’t meant to anger the oriole warbler, which possibly overreacted due to being a little nervous in an unfamiliar aviary. And I do think that the weaver male was absolutely sticking up for his mate.

Interesting how much humans have in common with 1.5-ounce birds, isn’t it?

Mike Grue is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post,


Cock-of-the-Rock Ruckus

A male cock-of-the-rock peers at Keeper Athena.

A male cock-of-the-rock peers at Keeper Athena.

If you’ve walked through Parker Aviary at the San Diego Zoo recently, you’ve probably wondered what all the commotion is about. There has been a lot of activity as well as a lot of noise coming out of the mouths of some extravagant and brightly colored birds. At first, most seem to think that the birds are showing some aggression toward each other or are being territorial. However, there’s a different explanation for this activity, and I’d like to shed some light on it for you.

The bright reddish-orange birds with black wings and tail feathers, pale gray wing coverts (feathers on their backs), and arcing crests that extend from the back of their head to their bill, almost concealing their bill, are male Andean cocks-of-the-rock Rupicola peruvianus. The females of the species look quite different, with dull plumage that is an orange-brown color and much smaller crests. They all have strong, hooked bills and powerful legs with very sharp claws. My hands can attest to these sharp claws as I learned quickly to be extra careful when handling them. Once they get their grips on something, they won’t easily let go!

A female cock-of-the-rock gathers nesting material.

A female cock-of-the-rock gathers nesting material.

There are two species of cocks-of-the-rock: Andean and Guianan. They belong to a family of birds known as the contingas, which is an amazingly diverse neotropical family of birds containing 34 genera and 97 species. The Andean cock-of-the-rock is sometimes referred to as the national bird of Peru. The genus name Rupicola means the dweller among the rocks and explains their preferred habitat. Andean cocks-of-the-rock are found in mountainous subtropical forests of the Andes in South America, which are often close to rocky outcrops next to streams. Their diet consists of fruit, insects, and occasionally small amphibians, reptiles, and mice, which make up a significant portion of the diet that is fed to chicks.

The San Diego Zoo is proud to be home to the second largest cock-of-the-rock group in the US after the Dallas World Aquarium, where most of our birds were hatched. You can view some of them in Jungle Trails next to the Children’s Zoo as well as in the Parker Aviary. In Parker, we have six birds: four males and two females. Two of these males are housed in the walk-through side of the aviary to help simulate what happens in the wild. They participate in the display but do not participate in breeding.

One of the unique characteristics of the cock-of-the-rock occurs during breeding season: males gather at communal courtship sites known as leks where they engage in elaborate vocalization, displays, or dances. These gatherings are a form of competition for breeding females and an opportunity for the males to show off their skills. Fifteen or more males may participate in a lek.

A female observes a male cautiously.

A female observes a male cautiously.

Breeding season varies depending on the area but is prompted by the rainy season and will likely continue through February as long as they are stimulated by rain. Therefore, this is the best time of year to watch them display. As you walk through Parker Aviary, you can hear peculiar loud, hoarse grunts, chuckles, squawks, and snapping of bills as males dramatically bow, jump and flap their wings. The displays usually take place on exposed branches and occur more often early in the morning and early in the evening when the light is less intense. This may be related to the bright coloration of the males and vulnerability to predators during the display periods.

At the lek, males may be observed breaking up into pairs and performing confrontation displays. This is when most of the bowing, jumping, and bill clapping occurs, which becomes even more intense when a female approaches to investigate. The advantage of housing four males in close proximity to each other in Parker Aviary is that it provides us with the opportunity to observe these confrontation displays up close.

The female defends her nest when the male gets too close.

The female defends her nest when the male gets too close.

Following mating, the female constructs a concave cup nest of mud and vegetation. Mixing saliva with the plant matter and mud, the nest is built under a rocky overhang, in a cave, or attached to a cliff face. Occasionally, females may nest closely together if the site is suitable; however, they may also be territorial of their nest sites, as our dominant female is of her cave in Parker. A typical clutch contains 2 eggs that are incubated for 25 to 28 days. Females are solely responsible for incubation as well as chick rearing. It takes 42 to 48 days before a chick fledges. Away from lek sites, females are usually alone. Males forage in pairs, but they roost alone at night.

For now, these birds are not globally threatened. Threats in the wild include birds of prey, snakes, and encroachment on the birds’ habitat. A few fortunate visitors to places like Machu Picchu may have had the incredible opportunity to enjoy these birds in their native home. This is on my personal “to do” list. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy working with them at the San Diego Zoo and be thankful for the privilege to experience such an incredible species. I hope you may also have this opportunity and find it equally rewarding and enlightening.

Athena Wilson is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, First Flamingo Hatch of 2012.


Hands Up: You’re Surrounded!

Two members of the white-faced whistling duck gang

Two members of the white-faced whistling duck gang

The white-faced whistling ducks Dendrocygna viduata in Scripps Aviary at the San Diego Zoo are not known for being shy. They are not known for being subtle. They are not known for being quiet. What they ARE known for, by their keepers at least, are their ambushes and shakedowns!

The bird keeper working in Scripps Aviary has a morning filled with sights and sounds. The African grays Psittacus erithacus whirl, and caw. The green woodhoopoes Phoeniculus purpureus constantly cackle. The emerald starlings Coccycolius iris chirp, and the great blue turacos Corythaeola cristata make whatever crazy noise they make. Amid this beautiful symphony of sound, a keeper may forget to keep an ear out for the whistling duck gang.

The ambush starts off with an innocent high-pitched chirp. The chirp alerts those in hiding that their target is near. In moments, the whole flock of white-faced whistling ducks has the keeper surrounded! Whistling at the top of their small but mighty lungs, the ducks close in. The only way out of the jam? A quick-thinking keeper can distract them by tossing a couple of millet sprays into the water. Once the ducks take the bait, placing their food pan near their pool is another way to ensure that the keeper will be allowed out of the trap in one piece.

Okay, maybe I am being a little over-dramatic. The ducks are fairly friendly and never attack their keepers. I do think, however, that the message they are sending is clear: We want our food!

Check out the video to see what it looks—and sounds—like to be caught out in the open by the whistling duck gang!

Mike Grue is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, A Peacock Named Shameless.


A Peacock Named Shameless

Shameless basks in the sun.

Shameless basks in the sun.

We all have our routines. Some of us wake up and walk the dog around the same block in the same direction year after year. Others visit Starbucks every weekday for their first (or second) cup of coffee of the day. These routines lend predictability to the day and usually make us feel comfortable while doing them.

I’ve learned that when taking care of animals, it is helpful to make a plan and then toss the plan right out the window! The animals don’t care what a keeper’s agenda is or what we planned to do that day. The birds I work with frequently add excitement and unpredictability to my “routine.” Come late morning, however, one particular bird can be counted on to follow a set pattern.

When it comes to patterns, no routine is more comforting than the one between keeper and Shameless, one of the Zoo’s Indian or blue peacocks Pavo cristatus. Please know that the Zoo’s Indian peafowl (peacocks and peahens) roam the Zoo grounds at their pleasure. They do not have an enclosure or aviary. Shameless earned his name because he begs for food without any shame! The routine between bird keeper and Shameless goes like this:

• Around 11 a.m., Shameless shows up to the Tiger River keeper kitchen. He pokes his head through the door and lets us know that “it’s time.”
• The bird keeper takes a pan filled with peacock food out to the courtyard.
• Shameless eats all the crickets, his favorite food, from the pan. He returns to the kitchen to proclaim he is out of food.
• The keeper knows he has plenty of food left and refuses to add more crickets.
• Shameless goes back to his pan to eat the rest of his food.
• Shameless then walks back to the kitchen door and rests on his side in a sunny spot directly outside the kitchen door.
• The keeper pretends to be annoyed that the door is blocked and shoos him away.
• The keeper is secretly pleased that Shameless will be back the next day, and the next…and the next.

Mike Grue is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, Hornbill Family Feeding.


Win a Spot for Lorikeet Landing Tweet-up

Photo by Lisa Diaz

Photo by Lisa Diaz



The Safari Park’s Lorikeet Landing experience now has twice as many birds, resulting in twice as much fun! To celebrate, we’re giving our loyal Twitter followers exclusive access to the exhibit on Saturday, January 4, at 9:30 a.m. before the experience opens. Because of limited capacity, only 20 people will be allowed to join.

Want in on this awesome VIP experience? All you have to do is tweet these exact words starting Friday, December 20, 2013:

Hey @sdzsafaripark I want to go to the #lorikeetlanding tweet-up on January 4th!

The first users to tweet the exact words above (one tweet per user) will win spots for the tweet-up. *By tweeting the above, you confirm that you agree to the terms and conditions below.* Please only enter if you are available to attend the event on the morning of Saturday, January 4, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. The winners will receive a tweet or direct message from @sdzsafaipark with more information on how to claim the prize. Space is limited for this event, so get moving!

Guests are also encouraged to participate in our Lorikeet Landing Instagram Contest, which ends the day after the tweet-up. Simply tag your Instagram photos and videos with #LorikeetLanding for a chance to win a private Balloon Safari for ten.

Terms and Conditions


1. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park Lorikeet Landing Tweet-up Contest (“Contest”) will be held online from 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”), December 20, 2013 (“Sweepstakes Start Date”), to 9:00 a.m. PT, January 4, 2014 (“Contest Period”). Contest is sponsored by the Zoological Society of San Diego DBA San Diego Zoo Global (the “Sponsor”) who is solely responsible for all aspects of this Contest.

2. ELIGIBILITY. The Contest is open to legal residents of the United States of America who are 18 years of age or older as of “Contest Start Date.” Sponsor’s employees and their immediate families are not eligible to participate or claim a prize. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. All federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations apply. By participating, entrants agree to abide by all terms of these Official Rules and to the decisions of the judge, and waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Contest or these Official Rules.

3. HOW TO ENTER. 1.) As of 12:00 a.m. PT, December 20, 2013, the entrant must:

a. Have a Twitter® account: If you are not a member, you may sign-up here:

b. Tweet the specified text: Hey @sdzsafaripark I want to go to the #lorikeetlanding tweet-up on January 4th!

No mechanically reproduced entries will be accepted.

4. INTERNET LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY. If for any reason this Contest is not capable of running as planned due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, the Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest in whole or in part, at any time, without notice and award the prizes using all non-suspect eligible entries received as of this termination date. The Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. The Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer on-line systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by the Sponsor on account of technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in this Contest or downloading any materials in this Contest. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON (S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a winner based on a Twitter account, the winning entry will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the Twitter account submitted at time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to a Twitter account by Twitter Inc.

5. SELECTIONS AND NOTIFICATION OF WINNERS. Winners will be determined by chronological order of entries (first come first serve); the first users to enter earn priority spots. Winners will be notified by Twitter direct message or tweet  and need not be present to win. Only one winner per household. Winners will be required to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability/Publicity Release and completed IRS W-9 form within 30 days of issuance. Winners are solely responsible for all travel costs that might be required to visit the San Diego Zoo. The winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected if a selected winner fails to comply with these rules, cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim a prize, or fails to return the completed and executed Affidavit and Releases in the stated time period as required, or if the prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission to use the winners’ names, likenesses, and statements for promotional and publicity purposes without additional compensation or limitation unless prohibited by law. All decisions of the Sponsor regarding the selection of winners, notification and substitution of winners in accordance with these Official Rules shall be binding and final.

6. PRIZES AVAILABLE. Winners will receive a TBD amount of spots for the Lorikeet Landing tweet-up on January 4, 2014. The prize is not transferable, assignable, or redeemable for cash and if not used will be forfeited.

7. INDEMNIFICATION AND RELEASE. By entering the Contest and participating in any promotions relating thereto, each entrant agrees to release and hold Sponsor, its respective affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents, participating retailers, and any other companies participating in the design, administration, or fulfillment of this sweepstakes and their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents, harmless from any and all losses, rights, claims, injuries, damages, expenses, costs, or actions of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participation in this sweepstakes or any sweepstakes-related activity, or acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the prize or parts thereof, including without limitation personal injuries, death, and property damage and claims based on publicity rights, defamation, or invasion of privacy.

8. TAX INFORMATION. All applicable Federal, state and local tax liabilities and any other incidental expenses, fees or costs associated with the receipt or use of any prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

9. WINNERS LIST. For an Official Winners List (available after January 4, 2014, and through December 31, 2014) or a copy of these Official Rules (PLEASE SPECIFY WHICH), send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: San Diego Zoo Global, P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112-0551.

10. SPONSOR. San Diego Zoo Global: P.O. Box 120551 San Diego, CA 92112-0551

Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global.